I Just Wanted You to Know by Opalina Salas
To live inside your walls
I want to be so big inside
And live inside your walls
There’s a beggar in the alleyway
Wrapped up in a sheet sleeping,
like King Tut
Or a body waiting for a toe tag
I can’t decide
What idea does him more justice.
But he is just a man, dirty feet twisting under the morning
Light. Just trying to get some sleep. Some death away from
The streets that embrace him too hard.
I remember the way Andy knew what “Yawn” meant.
The way he smelled like a walking riot, the way his thick fingers
Hold a cigarette.
The blank look on his bearded face when Bill died.
The way TJ had to tell me on the phone,
“he’s dead”
Of how I only had begun to get to know him again.
The way he stepped on my iPod and acted like
An insensitive jerk most of the time.
The way his face looked grey in the casket.
I told my husband over and over again,
“That’s not Bill” and
Of how I can only remember him,
18 years old, platinum grunge hair
and girlish face, dashing thru the inflatable obstacle course
on a tethered bungee cord, something
people did, oddly enough,
in the 90’s.
These are the thoughts I have in the morning.
Caskets and butterflies,
Primary colors and mustang fountains.
as I look back over my shoulder into the darkened
House. I smell the scents of cat shit, last night’s dinner
And cologne settling in the air.
It doesn’t matter that the sun is out.
Or that it’s Wednesday, or that
There is no money in the account.
It doesn’t matter.
The thoughts unburden themselves onto my busy day.
At a stop light, I notice my double chin in the side view mirror,
The flourish of grey hairs, I’ve decided to stop dying.
They have taken over with zeal. They have won the battle,
And they have now divided me from the living and the dead.
It’s the division between “Missus” and “Ma’am” that
Cuts the most.
Today I’m wearing Andy’s aviator sunglasses. I thought
It would make me write like him. I’m thinking about Jolee Davis.
I wonder what it’s like to love her. Does she scream in the middle of the night
With the weight of her words and brilliance flashing nonstop in her sleep?
Is it always a step away from the inevitable with her? How many pills does it take to sleep?
I wonder
Does she know how
Amazing she is? I think of Joey, his dreadlocked hair, last time I think there was grey there. I think of his arms around her, I think about what they whisper to each other in bed.
I think of Michael Clay’s harmonica collection. His artwork. His God. The way his eyes accept my words. His cold balcony. They way he loves. The way he wails. I turn up the Bob Dylan cd. I can see his cheeks filling and collapsing as the harp sucks and fills. That final statement that says . . . Just keep going. Just keep going. I’ve decided to stop dying. At 4am the city’s air is thicker, as if it’s trying to pump itself full of good while everyone is sleeping. There are Mexican restaurants on Greenville Ave. that never close, and panhandlers at the 7-11. Bar bouncers hi-fiving on the corner as they slip back into their cars and back to their bachelor pads, littered with floors of dirty black shirts. Sleep disguises itself as an invisible veil over the eyes. It makes the highway fluid like a chamber of solitude. 18-wheelers are ballet dancers. The silver full moon bursts out of black clouds in a gray sky, and my mind wanders on it for days. I get most depressed when the night is beautiful, when life is beautiful. It will all be over someday, and it makes me hurt.
There are grackles with orange plastic beaks
Poking the grass outside my window. Why do they seem so perfect
And why do they all look the same.
Doubting beaded black eyes, as if they can hear me think.
One flutters its feathers and takes a crap. Stop dying.
I can’t sleep in the morning. I think about breakfast, I wonder when the sunlight will come
And when the cat will start crying. I think about where my friends are
What they are doing
And when will I see them again.