Dwellings

By Christyn Hutchens

I remember once
driving from Orlando to Miami,
blistering heat,
another swamp summer.
I had piss on my shoe
and he smelled like warm bread.
My childhood dreams
of comic books and dinosaurs,
coupled with flea markets
and boiled peanuts.
Florida is a place
where the grass is sharp,
but the sand is the softest in the world.
A place where
truck drivers stop at lemonade stands.
We had water gun fights
with old shampoo bottles
and pushed each other into ant hills.
It was like we were riding in the back of a station wagon:
“HA HA HA-
HE HE HE-
THERE IS A GORILLA
SITTING ON MY KNEE!”
except we never had a station wagon.

We kept the litter box
under the seat
and listened to Tom Petty.
I can still hear my mom
yelling at some one else’s kid,
while I practiced the Time Warp
in the kitchen.
We picked through garbage
to find gifts,
then rode our bikes
and shattered our bones.
I was laying in the middle
of the street when
the priest asked me if I was doing “OK”.
In Connecticut,
frozen spaghetti
is considered comforting.
All I wanted
was to drip bleach into my eyes,
in hopes of erasing that image.

We had a Dalmatian
that would slip out the gate
and run away,
one day
he was hit by a train.
Before that
my sister was always
sweet like marzipan,
the kind of sweet
that makes your teeth hurt.
Once she made me wear a garbage bag
in place of a rain slicker.
In California
I learned that
BB guns and impromptu tunnel parties
won’t put out fires.
I had my first unwanted kiss
and ate five cent candy
from the batting cages
on top of concrete elephants in the park.
I held him for his last breath
in the hallway,
because my mom was at a Christmas party.

Washington’s tree silhouettes
are like a natural lace on
the hue of a sunsets horizon.
My friend told me once
that she felt infinite
as she struggled to breath,
and I blew smoke
out of a toilet paper roll.
I wore high heeled shoes
to help me forget that he was dying,
and twenty-five cents got me a handful of earwigs and peanut
M&Ms.
He had hugs like
envelopes
and we would read Thoreau, Nietzsche and Marx to each other
on couches in the woods.
I sat there for hours
refusing to remove my shoes,
insisting that I remain “rooted”
staring at a rooster,
petting rabbit fur.
“Don’t finger my button with your sausage cakes!”
I yelled as we rolled across a sea of plaid.

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