Volume 40 ~ 2017

 

                  

Abby Cleveland

Earth is Safe

 

I need something permanent,                                                    I need something permanent.

you say I don’t,                                                                              I want to touch the stars,

but I do.                                                                                          not stay where it’s guarded.

                                                                                                          I want to explore with you.

When you bring me up                                                                Even if you will

into the clouds,                                                                              tire of “safe” me,

even higher than that;                                                                 and leave to see the universe.

space.

Nothing is permanent.                                                                I need someone permanent,

                                                                                                         someone that stays for the sheltered

I need to come down                                                                   and understands the dangers;

to the ground,                                                                               someone who will stay long enough to

where it's secure;                                                                          take me to touch the moon and the stars,

Earth.                                                                                             someone who loves adventures but

                                                                                                         loves me more,

But I want something temporary,                                            someone not like you.

like you.

Because eventually,                                                                    “Earth can’t hold me down”

you will want more,                                                                    That’s what you said when

more space,                                                                                   I asked you to be safe.

but I need to come back                                                             You are not permanent.

down to the ground.                                                                    You promised you were,

                                                                                                         but you like to see the black sky filled

You like danger                                                                            with blinking fireflies rather than

taking risks                                                                                    be with me on the dusty Earth.

that are far away

from Earth.                                                                                    I guess I’ll stay on the ground.

 

 

 

In the Cemetery

 

     In the cemetery, near Sarepta Gore Fly’s grave, I gaze at the funky looking orange and white flowers. They draw my attention because they remind me of the massacre marker a couple of miles east of this cemetery. I remember the name Michael Tulley on the back of the grave marker. Michael is my dad’s name. His dad, my grandpa, serves for this country. My Grandpa’s name was Manning. Manning is my brother, Miles’, middle name. My grandma’s name was Mary, which is my middle name. Abigail Mary Cleveland. That’s my name. It hasn’t been put on a grave marker yet like the unknown child’s marker. It will be, later. Now it’s only the unknown child’s name. Maybe his name was Jack and he lived as a sailor on a pirate ship, and he loved stealing from the islands that he and his crew members ransack.

     “Aye, Jacky boy, you coming down?” Wade, Jack's only friend on the boat, called to him from the boarded landing deck. Jack is still on the massive ship debating whether to come on this raid or not. Jack decided to go and be a part of the pillage. He starts walking down the board ramp to get off the ship, wondering about which home he was going to burn down. When he got to the cobblestone path, he and Wade ran off together, causing havoc like a couple of young boys running and playing together.

     Or the unknown child could be from land. He could be one of the jailers in a cell in the 1900s. He had probably done a bad thing to get in there, but he could also have been framed. His name would be Noah.

     The rubber ball bounces from Noah’s right hand to the floor and then the opposite wall that he is casually leaning up against. He catches the ball and throws again. He keeps this up in his dusty dank cell until his roommate wakes up and asks the same question he has been asking ever since Noah has gotten there two months before. Noah’s roommate, Greg, steps down from the top bunk and asks his question again, to which Noah ignores and continues on his game like a jewelry box that occasionally needs winding up.

     I sit in front of the unknown child’s grave and think. I think up a life for this child. A life that they didn’t get. I look at the flowers that are by Sarepta Gore Fly’s grave that I learned had married at age sixteen and died at twenty-four. I remember the massacre that happened nearly two miles away and the names of all my family members linked together. I wonder if this child even had a family to relate to. I think of their family and their siblings that were probably heartbroken because their family member died. I wonder what it would be like if I lost someone close to me.

 

 

Street Rat

 

     The announcer, in his mutilated and garbled tone of voice said, “You know the rules, girlies, No Rules.” He then made the girls shake hands while smiling his menacing smirk. One of the two girls is Lucy, decked out in a fighting outfit. The other girl, who Lucy decided to call Fat Patricia because of her rolls protruding out of her shirt and spandex shorts, gripped Lucy’s hand harder than was needed. Lucy let it be and decided to act like the homeless skinny girl that she is. She cowered away like a little kid does to a strange older person. Fat Pat gave her a sinister look and Lucy winced.

     No one really knows what it feels like to live on the streets, unless living on the streets is all anyone has. Lucy knows more than anyone what it feels to live alone, eating out of dumpsters, hiding from other street dwellers. Lucy hasn’t had a home for as long as she can remember. She has been tossed around from one foster home to another until she ran away at age fourteen. Being without warmth or food for someone that age and that long can screw with their head. Lucy never gave up, and turned from a lonely, feeble little girl into a strong and independent woman. Except she doesn’t have any money and no education to apply for a job. She is involved in illegal fighting. At the beginning, she wanted to do it for the money, but now her morals have overtaken and she doesn’t want to do it anymore. The people in charge, force her to keep on fighting for a reason unknown to Lucy.

The stench of the garbage and the cigarette smoke fill the air and Lucy’s nose but she has become so accustomed to the repulsive smell by now that she doesn’t even register that she is breathing in cancerous toxins. Even though the air is suffocating and putrid smelling, the moon is full of life. It overlooks from its element in space, watching the jostling of bodies down on the horrific ground of Earth. Two girls are standing in a dusty lot surrounded by men drinking the definition of heart cancer. Other girls are yelling and screaming their bets, insulting the one they didn’t have confidence in. Pat, who is willing to battle out for money like a couple of dogs, is dressed for the fight.

     The announcer called for silence and slowly the boisterous sounds of excited fans settled until nothing but the squealing of rats being chased by cats could be heard. He points one grimy finger with dirt stuffed nail at Lucy, who stepped forward immediately. She knew the consequences of not stepping forward and she didn’t want to go through something as traumatic as her experience before. The other finger declares the other competitor, who is twice the size of Lucy with matted hair and gnarled yellow teeth. She stepped forward urgently as if she was so confident and excited about pummeling some other human being who has no relevance to her.

The two girls squared up like professional boxers. This is different than professionalism. There is no ambulance if someone gets hurt. Nobody stops the fight unless someone is knocked out. The announcer was now in between them getting ready to start the fight but Lucy wasn’t paying attention to him. She was looking at Fat Pat, sizing her up and calculating on how to beat her. The announcer with the creepy sneer signaled the start of the fight and the uproar of the crowd started again. Fat Pat immediately came forward and swung. Much to everyone’s disbelief, Lucy deflected and swung back with a solid blow. Fat Pat’s eyes rolled to the back of her head and she started swaying as curtains do in the wind. She fell like a baby bird does when it tries to fly for the first time. A big clomp was the unmistakable sound in the big lot. For a couple of seconds nobody said a word, just like before but after those precious decisive seconds, the crowd explodes.

 

 

My Hair is Blond

 

My hair is not brown or red,

it’s blond.

I have blue eyes that match

my blond hair.

Does that make me dumb?

Am I defined by the

everyday judgment of;

“you’re such a blonde.”

 

I remember hearing

when I was a kid,

“She isn’t going to be one of those

little dumb blond girlies is she?”

I remember my dad

doing nothing to stop

the insults.

Neither did my mom.

 

No.

I am brilliant.

I can do whatever

anyone else can.

Nobody can stop me.

I am incredible.

 

 

Growing Up

 

     Seeing the vastly green trees and the overpopulated poison ivy, that if stepped on would leave a rash on skin like a bullet fixates on a soldier, made her nostalgic. The last time she was there, strolling down the once fruitful pathway, was long ago. She is older now like the lifespan of a fruit fly, she has grown over the years. She can’t help thinking about the past and what has happened. She walks near the fallen log that makes her terrified, but now she is determined to face her unnecessary fear. She takes the first step on the broken tree and hears the crick crack of the bark being crunched. Flashbacks to her childhood hit her like a ball is hit by a bat in a professional baseball game.

     She is younger now, but she is in the same place taking that first step onto the newly fallen tree, but this time she is even more scared as she crawls onto the log. Her brother is already halfway across the tree and the stream flowing briskly underneath. He turns back and even though he is younger than she is, he gives her one of his reassuring grins with his front teeth missing. He turns and continues his journey like a prince with his sneakers clomping across, what her little girl mind thought as, a vast open ocean. She carefully takes two more strides, or as careful as an eight year-old can be.

     The thirty year-old didn’t know that she was going to end up at the log and the stream where she and her brother were so long ago. She was just driving but then she turned right onto G road which she had renamed it Grover Grove when she was little so she could get the whole idea of living in the city and not on a grubby country farm. She kept driving through the trees that overlooked her like soldiers do their commander. She makes it to the special place but she is cautious when her feet come close to the spot where her fear was created like how Michelangelo created St. Peter’s Basilica.

     The little blond haired girl crawls further and stops to take a rest, except she puts her little princess-like palm on a disintegrating tree limb that’s breaking off like a starfish arm being torn from the body. She hears the crack and the crick of the branch but it goes too fast for her to act. The little princess falls like a bird descending into the ocean to feed. She feels the strong rip of the tree branch slashing through her Hannah Montana t-shirt that she got from her sister and into her delicate soft skin. Putting a giant gash down her chest from the right down to her stomach on the left. She thought she was dying, because she thought the wound was gushing rivers of red into the untouched stream full of undisturbed minnows and tadpoles. She made the unbalance happen, she tried to mix red oil into calming rivers of clear water. She was hurt and did not cross the log like her brother.

     She remembers the time when she fell into the water and got a rough gash that her dad had to clean up. Making it across the log is really important to the adult, so she can overcome it. She passes the broken limb and continues on. Her chest puffs up with pride at taking that last step off the tree. She has completed the one thing she couldn’t when she was a child. She has conquered her fear. She has grown up.