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paul watkins, eh?
i went to bed uneasy, disconcerted, not even knowing what i
i ached for some harry potter and tried to fill my void
with oliver sacks and poetry.
in the semi-dark, my eyes scanned the bookshelves,
searching for something to appease my newly rediscovered
hunger for ::shiver:: reading.
they fell on my memory book.
i'm pretty certain my eyes retreated into their sockets as
this familiar, duct-tape-engulfed little notebook held my
so we meet again....
there were things cowering inside that notebook that didn't
want to be seen so why should i invade their privacy?
i rethought that.
there were emotions cowering inside me that i had shut
away; opening that notebook would force me to deal with
thinking too hard about CTY was draining, like managing to
inscribe a flood of emotions and memories and then having
to continue the day with mundane daily tasks.
but i stared, uneasily, for five minutes or so, as the
silver slabs of sticky fiber held me, upright, leaning
against that bookshelf....
my fingers, acting against the safe intentions i'd
programmed into them, reached for the book and i found
myself in bed, shivering, nervous, skimming it's pages.
my thoughts were again a frantic, wandering mess, and i was
suddenly all clenched up inside, a deathly grip on my
kneecaps and my pillow and a stray pen, tears falling from
our yearbook page lay open in front of me, the page that
we'd stayed up until 1 am working on in the room that
shielded our lights from kohler's patrolling eyes.
i reread "someone else" and i missed the singing most, more
than the people who i could seek out or the bad dining hall
food that i would inevitably come across in my four-year
i missed the stage, i missed the limelight, i missed the
opportunity to make a splendid fool of myself.
i missed everyone knowing who i was because I knew who i
i missed singing for myself, the last time we'd all gotten
up there, sick and weepy and unrehearsed and nevermored...
a flash of imaginary lightning shot through the room.
the tears dried, the fingers stopped wringing, and like a
prayer resounded in the deepest pits of my mind.
i saw us dancing, ecstatic, sweaty and sweet, dancing so
close to the DJs that half of the song had probably
skipped, but memorable as i liked to be...
i'd found contentment, stability even, outside of the
quivering, nervous happiness i'd had at CTY, where i'd
counted down the minutes until my forced departure.
mer had made fun of me all summer for it - "this is a blade
of union grass...it's different from hamilton grass!" - but
she'd been right.
for six years, i'd held CTY up on its own lonely, haughty
pedestal rather than absorbing it into my "real life"
personality as i should have done.
i'd learned to accept my losses and be satisifed with my
gains, be satisfied with not having all the answers.
two years ago, i'd been ready to leave, hadn't i?
i'd been fulfilled in all the aspects i'd turned to CTY to
fulfill for me.
i came home with love, friendship, fondness, a thirst for
knowledge, and a passion for self-discovery.
i must have had something remnant from that summer that
could.....express....yes, here it is, i found it!
i could feel the echoing silence glare back at me from the
icy blue walls.
alright, so it was two in the morning, i'd forgetten in my
this second notebook was more nerveracking to glance
through than the first but i gritted my teeth and braved
its stiff pages, crinkled with ink and tears and glue.
i rifled through every page, from the worn magazine cutout
to the dried flower to the stolen opus artifacts, until i
came to it....my poem.
i'd known when i'd written it that it would happen someday,
reflecting on CTY and loving it and missing it but not
needing to use it as a crutch.
the clear black letters were sunk into the page, forming
words and phrases and sentences that leapt out and tugged
at my proverbial heartstrings.
i stared at those words and i smelled the grass in the
quad, i felt the mud grit between my teeth and my toes, i
tasted the last sweet kisses, i saw the sun rise above our
bowed heads, i heard the closing chords of american pie....
and then there was a sixth sense.
it wasn't just memory, the way i remembered to go to a club
meeting to do pick up the dry cleaning.
it was my memory, it was everyone else's memory, it was
feeling myself in the then and the now and everywhere in
it was feeling life.
my soul crawls under the tops of grass blades,
ducks out of the way of
rays of sunlight
and brushes against peoples' bare feet.
an olive tree whistles
as we rock back on our heels
and let the rain kiss our sullen faces.
the rain and sun are at odds today,
now shaking, now shivering,
now curving the sky into a perfect blue sphere
speckled with splattered shrubbery.
spread into the ceiling of my room
are taco remains and lipstick stubs,
a caterpillar crawling on my pant leg,
and the time we almost went too far;
my memories thrive
and frighten me.
because what if?
what if i'm sitting on a telephone wire
and i get burned?
what if the taco shell
that's grown around my ground beef memory
will my hope then be forever fractured
with the fear that it can happen again?
no, it's safer not to look back,
to let me hair grow long
and my nailpolish chip
and my eyebrows grow in.
if i get angry it means that i let myself trust;
when i trust, i remember.
but i shan't remember -
i shall just breathe.
i shall drunk koolaide and roll in the dirt
and smile in pictures
and welcome the ants that invite themselves
into my lap.
i shall laugh when i fall down, or cry
when i need to.
and then, when the rain and the sun are at odds,
now shaking, now shivering,
i will jump into that perfectly speckled sky.
i will cut my hair
and paint my nails
and pluck my eyebrows,
sit naked under the sheets reading brautigan.
i shall get angry.
i shall remember.
july 20, 1999
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