Lightbulbs

In one small section of my brain,

the door eases shut,

but the light remains.

Around the corner down the hall,

a different storage room collects dust.

The room’s old light bulb is ice cold to the touch;

frail and unused — surely unable to stay on

without blinking with uncertainty.

 

In this hall, the floors are cracked,

stained with years of

children scurrying to and from,

knowledge expanding

beyond the walls of just one room.

 

Over time the department gets smaller

and smaller.

Old lightbulbs collect inside a box.

Soon, the hall empties — boxes stack,

stored untouched.

Walls weaken with age,

doors rust unused.

 

Occasionally, maintenance is done;

a curious growing child goes back

to her roots, seeking what she once knew.  

Boxes are pried open, doors swing wide;

the hall lights up as the dust is washed off.

Each room brightens temporarily.

 

At the end of the day, the girl goes home,

and the boxes shut;

seemingly neglected still,

dust piles again.

She leaves with intentions to go back;

to revisit and clear the dust.

One day she hopes

to keep the department alive,

for as long as she can help it.

In The Depths Of The Ravine

Sticks are what I use when we’ve been hiking for three hours, and occasionally as mum admires the flowers, my brother and sister sword fight with sticks. To the side I draw a sun in the dirt, dragging my stick behind me as I run to catch up with them when I notice they started walking again.

We continue like this and even cross the canal; hopping from rock to rock as my fingers tingle and my mind screams “dont get wet, you can’t swim” until my sister and brother splash each other and I have the sudden urge to dip my shoe in the cold stream.

When we get to the deep end, mum finds flat stones and skips them on the shore, and my brother even gets a few. My sister tries it too, but her rock slumps on the water with a splash which taints the cement holding the canal together.

 

At some point as we gaze in the distance, as mum teaches us about the birds, I drop my stick and forget to pick it up again and I’m flushed with embarrassment because I didn’t see or hear any birds. When we get back onto the path I pout as I watch mum and my brother hug each other. I kick a rock, and my sister runs after it; she laughs and looks back at me expectantly so I giddily punt at the rock and it goes flying again. The rock is a soccer ball and though my aim is off and the rock makes dirt rise, we play until my sister hears mum whistle — we ran too far.

As we wait, my sister notices the both of us don’t have sticks, but she finds two twigs and for a moment we cast spells and I laugh as she mimics herself crashing into a tree. I see my brother running up to us and he stops, drawing a long stick as he plants it firmly into the earth “you shall not pass,” he says, his voice carrying out behind us and we all laugh as he bows.

I wait for mum, and they talk about video games so I decide to sit on the path. On the ground I notice ants carrying pebbles so I picture myself carrying a boulder, and what that’d look like to a giant. On the side of the path I see a couple brown snails in the grass, and one hanging from a leaf.

 

I distantly hear mum come back and decide to climb up a trail up to the top. As we walk my brother says, “I wonder what’s under that rock.”

Mum quickly replies, “No! Don’t lift it,” and he snickers. When we get to the top I see plastic bags and beer bottles and even a blanket near a fallen tree and I wonder quietly, shivers creeping up my back as I see the roots of a tree curing around a rock and beside it a lighter and a crushed white and blue pack of cigarettes.

My brother hands me another stick which I lean on as they talk because I’m standing to the side so I can’t hear mum whispering. Below us, at ground level, the grass leads to a road and I count the cars as I realize we’ve been here a while.

On our way back down I use my stick so I won’t fall and mum even takes my hand a couple times as my sneakers slip on the earth and my feet tingle because my mind screams “dont fall you’ll break your arm.”

 

Once we get back to the canal mum bends and takes some beautiful rocks, glistening from the water, one is green and smooth and one is ridged and brown, and I stuff them both in my pocket as my brother and sister lead us to the stairs, and I fall behind again after I leave my stick for a dog to fetch and pant my way up to the car.

Someone in my Head

on this night we are on the bridge with woof woof les chiens with their owners. paws are loud in the darkness. and we look up into the sky and it makes me dizzy i’m petite and Maman points and Tristan nods and i feel far away kind of like les etoiles. there are never shooting stars but Apo hopes. peut-etre, “maybe we’ll go see them in august,” Maman says as if i know what that means. i glance at Apo and le coté du bridge entre the cold bars that look sharp with red dust that Tristan says is danger and i know we’ll be here a while. ow mon coup hurts with the curve of it as i look up at the constellation i should find – it is my name after all.

Papa sees me after work as he puts away his velo and i’m in the yard with Apo, my twin always together never apart even in the night. our room is high up. one bed in a little chambre avec des jouets and books i don’t like but Tristan does. our yard is full of framboise that have péppins and hurt with needles that aren’t visible so i step cautiously around them and avoid les guêpes qui piquent Tristan. and later pendant the summer Maman will turn the framboises into jam that we will eat on petit pain for breakfast with Maman because she doesn’t work like Papa does. but sometimes she comes to school and les élèves call her Madame and i help with the kids de la maternelle because i’m 6 so it’s okay. Madame Bernadette gets it.

on our birthday on fête la fête with Nonna and everyone else and we have 2 cakes. une pour vous and one for Nonna whose birthday is actually next week. i want my own cake because we aren’t one but toujours ensembles vous vous avez les filles, Maman always reminds me i nod. Apo says nothing too. i think that means we did right because la fête continues. we pick gifts from the one bag given to us, and when Apo sees mine she says c’est le mien i keep it. non c’est a moi.

on the beach it is summer and we are here after driving and je pense i did sleep. well Apo did. “on mange des crepes demain,” tomorrow’s breakfast will be sweet and i can roll them on my own now. Maman still thinks les couteaux are dangerous. but Philip and Dacia use them. they also put nutella and that’s degeu and sucré. yes, more than sucre brun. Tristan likes them with limon et sucre, because il manage bien Maman says.

on the way to the hospital Papa says “you can sit in front” and i look back at my seat… if he says it’s okay i’ll be okay i guess. Papa leads me everywhere because you can’t know these things, places and names and things you can’t see or read. like common names. but the signs on the long road where Papa drives quickly and there are other cars and i can’t even hear the music. i wonder if it’s coldplay. the signs repeat their words Rue Allen Road. pourquoi. i didn’t need to be told twice it was pavement that cars zoom and bikes pedal and people walk with their chiens.

on some nuit when it’s late and we’re supposed to be au lit, Tristan and Apo are up parce que Papa cris. i can’t hear very much until they get to les escaliers and i hear banging and le plancher creaks crack crack crack bang like a heartbeat or mine as it goes boom boom boom booom loudly in my ears. Papa often talks about money, and he yells at Maman and tries not to show it, mais tu es jeune. when you’re older you’ll know Maman has spending problems and Tristan will defend her and you will be just as afraid with the same image of someone qui monte les escaliers and – no stop it there is no heartbeat you’re okay. it’s okay. calm down. because at the end of the night when you’re in bed with Apo always and forever you’ll be told bonne nuit by one or both and Maman will say “je t’aime a la folie” and Papa will say “i love you” and you will not know how to answer but to parrot back, sometimes.

and in bed always and forever at night in the same room as Apo and sometimes Tristan sometimes you are one and you hold hands but sometimes it’s warm. tu veux être seule all alone but i can’t because Tristan sleeps above with stars, i sleep under in the darkness beside her. so on se chicane and one of us bleeds because of our nails sometimes by accident. oh. je m’excuse, je t’aime. ca va? or va t’en, tu m’enerve. il fait chaud et tu ronfle! zzz zzz zzz groggy and loud beside me. STOP IT.

fake fragments

childhood is a broken glass; fragments on the floor and on the table

everywhere

like paint on chubby fingers that want to reach for glasses

like they reach for maman and mimic older brothers

like when in the park we do this because he wanted it and i am having fun because we are together

i won’t remember this or i might but is it real?

childhood is unreliable in recalling events and getting us to learn but it makes us us

and we are us in a way that is unique.

not like a snowflake. or maybe together as unique flakes we are the snow that blows and makes my chubby cheeks cold during this recess i don’t even want to have.

why am i outside with miserable adults that police and guard the gates of this facility like a prison

or an institution of the mind that will grow and fade with old experiences. like embarrassing events that make us feel bad, our friends and our manners shape us

parents are afraid of change but we change all the time and it goes so fast it feels fake

you can’t tell what happens. your lense is dirty just like mine

but we’re looking at different things

and i see through the car window as you drive my life because i’m unreliable little child