Race to the Top
I learned to run and climb in the fleeting heat of northeastern summers, under docks and between highways, skipping rock to rock lost in the balance of sole on stone until the morning light forced me home. I scrambled through brush before creeping up the stairs, tucked into my nest where I hid and hoarded taught myself to stay a directionless step ahead. I soared shitfaced and sad from treehouse to cave, flirted and fled to the past, curled in the in-between of wealth and poverty, home and shelter, sow and harvest.
A year past I ran abreast the artificial hill where the lights alternated to crown my prison and howled at their misfortune and my own. I tried to stay the tears, weighing other lives next to my fears, tore out my heart by the glow of the worksite to leave it shivering in the heat by rough hands and battered plastic goggles.
I lay on top of the city for perspective and stared down the stars as they became real as I rolled kicking and crying down the slope where I found the ground and couldn’t run for the dizziness. I daydreamed someone to push my feet into the dust, ground me in the fluorescents smuggle me to a higher point of view. Accustomed to first-world problems I compared each cell to every whole human filing orderly in the wet heat of the night, yellow-capped and blue clad.
But they coupled and multiplied without constraint until cells matched helmets and each life equaled a single fear in a mind mired in the weeds of selfish genes and collectivity. I ran back to nestle in shaking arms and the hypocrisy of duty where we scoured the town for silver tied arrows to trees and wept in a cold sunny breeze. I hid my knees in my coat, my face behind a curtain and my fears behind my pen as eyes fluttered closed and we sat silent in profile. She was steadfast and still, tired and teary but level, smooth and brave and strong.
I toasted and drank in the bar on the plane 'til my head spun rode guilt and pain back to the warm mild rain.