I miss being the passenger;

I miss the lack of responsibility.

I miss the lack of pressure and stress 

of going twenty, forty, sixty, 

the low rumble of tires tearing up 

and spitting out miles of road.

 

I miss sitting and sinking into leather seats 

with their warm, salty smell,

letting the engine heat

pull me deeper into a passenger’s sleep.

I miss the idle chatter of on-the-go phone calls

and the quiet soundtrack of radio hits.

I miss the simplicity of being 

a passenger.

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The First Fall

I’ve stuffed my foot in between couch cushions

to keep warm and steady

while you rest against my knee.

I can feel your chest rise and fall softly

as you look up at me,

dark shiny eyes swimming

in the pool of my subconscious.

 

Subtle tremors ripple through my fingers.

I try to demand my breath to even

while my eyes drift away

towards the television screen,

letting the whirls of color pull me

from the constriction in my chest.

 

But those eyes

began to simmer across my cheeks,

pulling me back in

and greeting me with a soft smile.

 

I lower the barrier of my leg,

clearing my throat confidently,

playing with buttons

and nervous laughter

until the music hits—slow and sultry,

inviting and warm,

teasing and seductive.

I hold onto my breath

and choke out spurts of commentary

 

until my voice ceases,

your gaze grasping it gently

and setting it back in my chest.

I can’t look away now,

not now when my eyes finally see you

in all your gentle glory.

Your nose slopes down

like a quiet waterfall

and your cheekbones dip

like countryside hills in the spring.

And then we’re closer.

 

The tides of melody pull us closer

and I can watch you more curiously.

Shadow covers your face when our foreheads touch

and I see your dark eyes twinkle.

Glee or mischief,

maybe anguish or fear.

I choose anguish as you fall into my lap

and I collapse on your back.

I beg you to listen to me

and not my lips that remain tightly sealed,

to feel the nervous and angry beats of my caged heart.

And so

 

you rise again a fiery phoenix

and we find ourselves connected.

Our breathing shallowed and sinked

and your head tilted.

A hesitance, a falter, and then

collapse—

gentle and surprised but

always gentle.

 

dancing king.

When he walked into the room

I had nearly missed him. 

It was the first time I had seen his face,

memorized the special curves

and peculiar valleys,

and realized how pleasant I found them.

The springs of curls had been buzzed away,

leaving a clean cut shadow. 

He was walking a little straighter

or maybe I had imagined it as more than it was

or maybe I hadn’t ever bothered to pay many attention.

 

When he walked onto the dancefloor

his ears were adorned with gold,

the light catching the glimmering metal

whenever he moved. 

His smile was shy and all-knowing as he danced in the center of the circle,

just for a moment becoming the star he desired to be.

Or maybe he didn’t care much for the attention

but for the swaying bodies around him.

Maybe it was in spite of the other boys who stood around like stocks of straw,

paralyzed by the fear of

what?

Being different?

 

When he walked into the line

he stood quietly waiting,

a dazed smile on his face

while I watched around and about him fondly.

the way home.

We were squished together like sardines

in a dark blue hallway,

the linoleum lights giving a warm and tired glow

on our sweaty and tired faces.

Tiny feet beat down on the ground

causing the ringing of drums to spiral

down that black blue hallway.

Then there was me—

tall and wearing too many layers for fall,

straight hair pulled too tightly back in a ponytail,

my tiny fist clinging to my shiny black box of plastic

with the only numbers inside being my mother’s and the house.

 

When the bell rang, the children sprang free

from the confines of the brick school house,

grubby hands pushing and shoving,

tiny feet drumming on pavement

until they hit the grass and took off

running across the hills toward wired fencing.

We all sang when we crossed the wired fence,

our feet slowing to a walk

until our hands found our silver door knobs

and we were finally home.

 

Polaroid Memory

The following I wrote in an effort to find sleep after finishing Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. In the first few chapters she suggests writing of childhood. Since I am still a child, I have years of material to pull clearly from. I had taken a trip to France the summer before freshman year and stayed for eight weeks. During one of those weeks My cousin brought me along to a church camp in Switzerland.


It wasn’t cold, surprisingly. Summer by the snowy mountainside had granted the privilege of soft, cool humidity, making the team task of dish washing less insufferable. We had eaten our lunches before anyone had come into the lunch hall, entering into a makeshift boiler room where all the dirty dishes were held. A sweet older Swiss woman greeted us, assigning us to different stations (one of which I can no longer recall but I imagine had something to do with organizing). I was given the duty of washing and drying whatever dishes came by. I kept my mouth shut while the rest of my team joked around with each other while completing our task, a flood of dirty dishes descending down their miniature elevator in quick increments.  I hadn’t spoken for so long that I began to feel my throat swell up permanently until the older woman turned to me and asked my name.

“Kirsten,” I said affirmatively, my shoulders instinctively rolling back with pride. Her face broke out into the widest and most cherub like of smiles.

“What a wonderful name! My nephews name is Kirst.” The name is male supposedly, and I had never heard anything like it. She began gushing over her dear nephew in a way I couldn’t help but smile at because she’d been the second person in my three months of solitude that my name and presence had provided pure joy to.

The other person had been a month before during another forced camping trip. His name was Adrien, mixed Danish and African and the eye of my cousin’s affections. I would tease Edna about him constantly, but I wholly understood her infatuation—hazel eyes, smooth skin, and a devilishly kind smile. He spoke fluent English—he was one of the few campers that did—so he felt like a saving grace. His only flaw was that he smoked weed the way Mafia gangsters smoked cigars and it had been causing a rift in his family as of late. 

At the introduction of my name he had told me that my name was danish (I was already perfectly aware of its Germanic nature but I ate up the compliment ravenously) which he loved because he was danish. I shot an onslaught of questions about his background, all of which slip my mind now, before he was pulled away into a rugby game. The ball was blue and white and rubbery and I was wholly confused by the sight of it. They ran across the wide, open clearing tossing the ball back and forth, offering now and again for me to join for me to decline and quickly retreat to the side away from the commotion. My eyes remained on Adrien still. We’d bonded so quickly over so little, I couldn’t help but want to kiss him as a form of compassion, of thank you, of a possibility of the romanticized future of summertime romance that has never been in reach.