Like Children

My knee joints knocked from a lifetime of running

nothing would bring more joy than the sight

of losing the neighborhood boy in the wake of my stride

I’d track buses, chase dogs

just to break a sweat

but when our old souls met

my body had yet to learn that we’d slow eventually

we’d run together

do you remember

spitting in the face of our youth

we’d boast that neither one of us had ever moved faster

so we ran

we’d race

side by side

knees aching as age begged us to quit

but we were in love with it

the thrill of who can get to the door faster

loser makes dinner, winner stays forever

doesn’t matter

the car’s around the building across two lawns and a parking lot

we’d take off like the Olympics

he was leg, thigh muscle

but I was all distance

this was the way we lived, our existence

all gleeful and foolish

First time my knee gave out I was astonished it buckled under me. Stitches upon keloids upon black marks and scuffs that I never thought twice about until a pain bounced

so lightning quick

from there through my skin and muscle and bone that in a moment of shrouded clarity

I thought who shot you

as I tumbled a little down the stairs I had visions of intruders taking flight, aiming the gun just right, so that I could never run again.

Panic bit up my ankle

leapt onto my chest

started to dance

If I am shot

if my faithful knee has fallen whom would I run to

where would I go

My pulse quickened. Minutes seemed to pass. I’d never two step or tap my feet in anger or ruthlessly beat the kids in tag because I’m petty and bigger.

Heart sounded so loud in my ears as I clasped my leg

what if I never run with you again

what if I never run to you again

 

The Garden Of A Child

I entered the garden of my childhood days after

the storm had passed over. A gentle breeze was

blowing and the sky was blue. Seeing in the

undergrowth a bird that had come out of an egg

only a little while ago and had fallen down, I

put it back in its nest.

It all happened yesterday. Today I am a grown-up

man again, and I just can’t put anything back in

its proper place.

–Nirendranath Chakravarti, India

 

The Sun

When I was three

the sun never shone on me

I only knew darkened nights

the sun’s gold wasted

Maybe it isn’t happy, just like me

Maybe I’m my own sun born of man and woman

I will shine and rise

glare heavily

so that they may see

they have not taken my joy.

They Call Her

In the dead of night, when mischief meets the crux of infamy, she attempts to break into her own house. Brown, cat-like. Jag lives on the second floor of a brownstone down the street from a festering middle school and project development. She was never allowed to visit. Her mom, has inconveniently forgotten the keys again. No matter.

I am warrior, superman scaling the steps in a single bound, and carefully hopping over the railing, to dangle off the side of the building. Maybe, Spider’s better. Spider’s building, doors, and windows have reinforced iron black bars, except, for the middle window in her apartment missing a few to accommodate the air conditioner. But, in winter, it’s just an opportunity. She loops her paws around Brooklyn bars, swinging to the middle window.

Her mom’s pulse quickens from the ground. Sometimes, she thought, child you astound me. You are all at once brave and dumb. Something and nothing like me. Who will you be?

Spider unlatches the window and slithers in, then bursts from within the gate with a glowing smile of accomplishment. She is eight.

I wish I could freeze them, but it’s not up to me. She needs to make her story, her mom needs to watch her grow. My narration can’t stop the story, can not prevent her losing happiness or the willingness to climb. Can not predict her falling into a man’s bed or visiting the projects with wide eyes. I can’t stop Cat’s stumble or rise. Can not give you answers that language hasn’t solved yet.

I exist in the shade of her existence, documenting. Wishing I had answers for her confusion so she didn’t hurt. God, I hear her bleeding heart needing to be loved, clamoring  around in brown skin that doesn’t always fit.

Girl, if you hear me, this is not all there is. It gets better.