“Box of Stupid Plastic”

When I was 12 I knew nothing really of reduction.
Even in the tight clip of a moving box, everything felt only like space
folding and then becoming whole again. One suburb crunched
airless and converted into another.

My eyes soaked fresh into palm fronds, push up bras,
new cellphones and their bizarre, enduring indestruction.
Every day after school we would launch them higher in turns,
Each box of stupid plastic waxing astral as it blinked dull teal light
into the trees. 12-year-olds think mainly of inertia, and forget about forgetting.
Forget about interstates and family members flushed white into receivers.

It was you who protected me against this. You who swallowed a country live
just to know me, somehow, still. Your care packages busted open on my bed
like autopsies, like a fat why or how  does this happen, all this love, like something must be leaking, ripped open in the gut. You came to me every summertime,
a sea salt mess of toddlers tree-climbing your arms and castles
of dripped sand. A steady stomach tear.

And when I came to you, the whole belly of Ohio became an un-apology,
cheap costumes donned in movie theatres or supermarket aisles. The whole belly
of Ohio became a pair of shopping carts shooting wild across the blacktop’s skin.
And in this was the secret, the recipe for inertia; the only way to ward off
reduction is to know someone, hysterically. Dull teal lights peppering the spaces
above everything. Throw it harder and watch the ways it won’t destruct.

But all matter destructs.
All cancers eventually sprout teeth.
Or feet. Or mirrors where your skin should be.

They say you’ve got possibly this summer left. They pour out a calendar
onto the counter and watch your dried lips follow its course. Somewhere,
a mess of crunched plastic and glass returns to me from the trees where once
I thought all whole things went to stay whole.

I will try to gnaw through country. I will try to swallow salt,
but everything tastes like chemo-coated blood. Like a calendar spill.
Or an oil spill. Or the ways they’ve always been the same.  I have learned
too much of reduction by now. Of telephones smashing inwards,
pixelating a landfill from all the questions housed within them.

Maybe words, too, can sicken. Maybe intentions can lose themselves
in this shifting scrapyard disarray.

Somewhere a small child swings his lunch bag into a flawless orb,
And finds its contents all swing back to him, in place. But somewhere
the wind shifts.  Somewhere the bag tears. Somewhere every fruit
in the market rots to a green-blue song and there is no you.
Every seat in the theatre bites itself shut and there is no you.
There are only the costumes we ran through, hollowed, soundless,
inexplicably still. Is this enough? Is this the recipe or the secret
or the ways you still come back to me? leaves and lights in your hair

It’s okay, you say, it’s a funeral, but it’s also a drunken dancer,
her hectic, flailing skirt. It’s a funeral, but it’s also this possible summer.
This sand. This sun-spot bleaching the overpass. These thousand ways
To drink love off a counter or to pat it into sand.

Somewhere from our stomachs– mortar and black asphalt, acres and acres
of grassland, crunched airless from our throats, spit their massive spaces
back out from our teeth fences, pour back state lines from our mouths,
find the messages, unglitched and legible, somehow, still;

Are you coming to the movie?
Are you just around the corner?
Will you wait for me


Feature photo by Daria/ VIA Epicantus