I see you outside the movies: hands coy in pockets, hair flirting with brow. The sight of my contraband Raisinets makes you roll your shoulders back and wink. You look like the king of the world. Oh, do I got it bad.
bright as lemons
fresh cream churned to butter
love’s weight in our hands promising
our lives slowly
and dye the joined fabrics
our saffron turmeric mustard
and so fragile
we pack our love away
like a yolk in its shell waiting
of your eyes turn
beige in our photographs
head down arms at your side looking
we are cowards
standing in fallow fields
we’re sunflowers in November
our lives slowly
we stow our love away
head down arms at your side looking
*Things are good in my relationship. It’s fiction. Promise.
and chili dogs
have a tendency to
burble back up at the worst times.
This month’s poetry slam is the cinquain. Check out other cinquains and other fantastic writings by clicking the badge above.
I’d just been down the street helping Justin. He was (shirtless) that kid in the neighborhood who was nice to everyone, so I offered to help him fix his bike.
He asked me to (stop staring at him) grab the little oil can from the garage. It was unusual to find him alone, so I asked him what he’d done with his fan club. He joked that they were all marooned on an island together—that’s why he needed to oil his bike chains: he was preparing to save them from doom.
As I pedaled the upside down Schwinn with my hands, Justin leaned over me clicking the bottom of the oil can. I felt his knee lightly on my back. His (armpit hair, bicep) proximity made me uncomfortable. Side-stepping, I made some excuse about getting home, to which he replied cluelessly “Snag you later then.” I walked up the incline of my driveway shivering, confused.
Inside the house, my brother was in our bedroom. Mom was working at the kitchen table and Dad was snoring on the couch. So my parents’ room was the only option for me to calm down and avoid having to tell someone (my secret) what was wrong. I wasn’t sure I could. I laid on my Dad’s side of the bed and closed my eyes. Whenever a breeze from the open window hit me, I took a deep breath until the shivering stopped.
A few weeks later, I was in our cramped garage watching my mom sand a dilapidated hoosier cupboard. Flecks of sawdust shone brightly in her dark curly hair. She stopped sanding for a moment to stand back and look at her work, so I took the opportunity to ask if she’d give me a perm. She questioned why and I said I wanted to (fix myself) try something different for my first year of junior high. She agreed to do it—more questions churning behind the words—and then looked back at the hoosier.
I watched her work a little longer, trying to figure out why she’d bought the old stained thing. I knew in a few months it would hold a prime location in her antique booth. Customers would comment on how stately and charming it was, but I just couldn’t see how.
My favorite tv show at the time was Head of the Class, about a bunch of high school misfits and their dedicated teacher. I had a crush on (Alan) Simone, the shy girl with the long red hair. Simone had a thing for the curly-headed and brainy kid Alan. Lying on my parents’ bed before, I had concocted a plan to look more like Alan and maybe find myself a Simone to take to the first dance of the school year. I saved money to buy a sweater with a dynamic pattern. I asked for wingtips and learned how to buff them. The perm was the last step.
On the Saturday before school started, I was sitting at the kitchen table with medium-sized pink curlers in my hair—Mom apologized for the color; they were her only set— when my brother walked in.
“What’s going on?”
“Nathan wanted something different this year.”
“A perm?” My brother sat down, a smirk across his face.
The chemicals’ smell hit my nose before I felt them dribble down my scalp. I started to panic. I asked my mom what would happen if I didn’t (change) like it.
“I never did understand why they called it a permanent,” she said, “when it’s only temporary.”
99% White. And the other 1% is from an area of the world from which all white people have genetic ties. So my lineage isn’t as diverse as I’d hoped. There are still some surprises in there.
The “Ethnicity Estimate” is the link to the Ethnicity Map above.
The upper right shows that I now have 104 matches to people on Ancestry. That feature is frustrating to me because most of them haven’t shared their family trees, so our connection isn’t obvious. I took the test to verify my research. For instance, I have a 2x great-grandmother Fanny Romine, whose maiden name—I’m fairly certain— was Grace, but I have no proof. I was hoping to connect to her descendents to prove my theory. To find a connection, I’ll either have to research Grace descendents on my own or contact all 104 cousins and play some Fanny Grace Go Fish.
The bottom of the screen shows a Thomas Hurd and a Dorcas Morris box. My DNA test has proven that I am descended from them. When I click one of the boxes, I see other Ancestry members that share their DNA.
I have so much work to do with this data and as time goes on and the technology improves, I’ll be able to learn so much more about my relatives’ stories.
This river breeds a longing fathoms deep.
The morning sun reflects her silver glow.
She stumbles through the gummy pines, asleep:
Roscommon, Osceola, Newaygo.
I didn’t ask to join her on this trek,
but follow as she summons wrens to wing.
The trout adorn her gown, each silver fleck.
She lolls on leaves and calls the stones to sing.
Their chorus builds as we begin to dash
through verdant moments I cannot pay heed.
Mosquitoes sting and branches low do lash,
but stymie not my dinghy’s fleeting speed.
Each passing wave dilutes a thrumming ache.
Muskegon, take me home upon your wake.