2000s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry

Concrete Decay

He was a redhead, freckle-faced boy.
His eyes were pale blue emptiness.
Fair skinned with blonde eyebrows
that got lost on his forehead.
He squinted all the time,
when he looked at you,
when he listened.
He was inarticulate and lacking grace.
He was a white-trash junkyard kid lost
in the wilderness of waist high grass and bamboo.
Lost in punk rock and Billy Idol snarls,
mohawks and dog-collar studs.
He bought me a Barbie tea set
and I felt like he loved me.
I forgave him for nailing My Little Pony
to the wall with a hairspray-spiked mane.
He came to my church with a motorcycle and tattoos,
after the Marines with spaceship conspiracies
and patent worthy inventions,
with his red hair and freckled-face
and his eyes as pale as ice.
I saw him on Christmas Eve
after his release with his crystal-meth mom.
He hugged me with his sweat-lined skin
at my job at the discount store.
I sunk away from him and his toxic residue.
He called me his little sister, but I only smiled
back a discount employee smile.
I stepped back from his oozing disease
that poisoned his reasoning,
that made him eat dogs
and break into automobiles for a place to sleep.
I stepped back from the dementia
he wore like a tattooed-robe on the day before Christmas.
When in backyards as big as city blocks,
the grass grew as tall as children,
we could hide in the long blades
like rabbits resting from the bloodhounds.
We built a world of bamboo forts and yachts
through the holes in the chain link fence.
We mastered block walls between junkyards
and guard dogs and newly constructed condominiums.
We lived adjacent to a graveyard of demolished houses.
We explored the wreckage like Greek ruins.
He was my brother then in our world of demolition.
Wild and without restraint,
the games were more than hide and seek.
Truth and dare. Did I dare?
Red-haired with children in a line,
waiting to prove bravery.
I am not that kind of sister.
I left the game.
I left the decay of concrete
and steel rusted through.
I left the forts and yachts
and green blades as tall as children,
as tall as rabbits.
I left my half brother
as I went back to my work
at the discount store on Christmas Eve.
I left the disease I saw seeping through his veins.
I am not his sister.
I went back to counting money
and separating credit slips and ATMs.
I am not his sister.

3-9-01
Included in a forthcoming project called Please Judge: Short Stories Based on the Songs of Roky Erickson.

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