Light That Shines, Light That Burns

There is screaming,
perhaps a slap, a pull of hair
from my scalp.
I run out the front door
intending to never come back.
Feet flying over tarmac,
I am a superhero
with superhero super powers,
and no one will catch me.
Across streets, through back yards,
run the bases at the park,
and aim myself at a parking lot.

My shadow is an astonishment
of a small boy without a cape.

South Miami grows out
of a soil whetted by immigrant dreams
blessing the grid with strip malls
and empty tracts of land
cleared for suburban development,
land that once fed cows
sweating under a seamless sun
from horizon to horizon
tonguing the world hot as a salt lick,
smacking lips with obscene pleasure,
searing, smiling light that shines,
light that burns until
everyone goes blind
with money signs and bare flesh
and suburban madness.

Strip malls quell restlessness.
Hardware stores, Carvel, and Lums
with glass front doors sweating
condensation, cool inside, welcoming me
after having run from that home
with every intention
of never going back.

A girl with pimples and eyes that want to see
so much more than a seven year old without a cape
is sweet enough to offer a cold glass of water
when I come in and boldly declare my thirst.
No one asks me, “Where’s your mommy?”
No one says, “Hey, kid, you look lost.”
They have no reason.
I am a superhero with super powers.
And I know it. So I am fine.
I drink down that cold water,
wipe my forehead with a napkin
snatched from the hostess’ station,
and hand the glass back to the girl
with the pimpled face I’d never again see.

I cross six lanes
to get to another strip mall
and find the toy aisle of a pharmacy.
Everyone who walks by me
wears short shorts
and smells of talcum.
Colorful plastic cars,
so many designs, numbers, insignia,
all of the colors like sounds in my head
of muscled motors
revving to go fast, fast, faster.

Is there a way? Can I get away?
Where can I go to get away
from the screaming?
Where can I go to get away
from doing everything

Far. I can go far
in a car just like this one,
this blue and red one,
with the number 43
emblazoned, slanted,
a white shadow
already moving,
and I’m asking,
when can I be
like car number 43
moving like a shooting star?

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(Sweet child, just you wait.)

Not an hour later,
thighs sweating on the floor,
speeding the raceway
of my mind,
my aunt’s voice comes
as if in a dream:
“There you are!
So many people
are looking for you!”
and casually, so casually
she grabs my hand
I casually give her
and hold on
until we climb into her
orange 1977 Chevy Caprice,
drive back to home where
I’d intended to never return,

where the door opens,
a hand flies out –
as if unattached –
and smacks every dream
I ever had

back into oblivion.



Image from Flickr.