David Meets OJ Simpson in a Southern Atlanta Parking Garage
Tin-ish cars in dossiers, reflecting off of one another
organ-shaped pieces of light. Their fenders looking into each other like bitter lovers after an argument; knowing how they will make up.
Two of them, the red and the white: an unlikely pair. Privilege and uncooth charm—
or at least in presentation—
they are all the talk of the garage.
The world is a sick color of brown. Gum sticks to everything everywhere, recording
the filth floating about the place, marking the walls and floor in black-and-blue.
It’s the gum stuck to the back of your molar, or the corn on your canine,
the stubborn pea under the mattress, and the dog poop you stepped in,
that’s plain as headlights through pitch.
So when this man comes through, walking like he chewed every
blessed piece of gum in the place, he and the three others watched him
dig for the keys in his pocket and then finding them,
rolodex through for the FORD;
they followed him in their minds. When he turned the key and opened the door,
then looked over his right shoulder
they played out of their embarrassment
and laughed like they had just punched each other in the arm.
I remember very little of you, just smells (like tobacco and upholstery) that were your two-room house, the thickness of your hair even in old age, and your hands like boulders had sprouted round cigars that were your fingers. The TV forever the glow of your house. You were placed on the ninth floor of Forsyth Memorial Hospital; the ninth floor is where people go to die and ever since I’ve never ever wanted to live on the ninth floor of anywhere USA. We spent our days and days there and I would sit in the solarium with Patrick and play Legos and the nurses would bring ice cream in little plastic cups with tongue depressor spoons because in nursing schools they teach that this is a promising as penicillin. I would come and go freely from your room and build my villages on the linoleum until I realized that the air in your world was thinner than the air in mine because your lungs made a hurting noise. So I camped in the cul-de-sac at the end of the hallway where I could watch the sky blacken through the window and pretend that my heart wasn’t beating because I wasn’t so sure about dying. Across the street, SEARS glowed white neon. Uncle Ned came to get me, and he didn’t need to talk because, and he didn’t need to talk (because this is a dead language). As he carried me back down the hallway in that hour (where I have found so much of me scattered like the plastic pieces on the floor), SEARS burned into my brains. I was nine years old and when my mother asked that I wear a hideous coat to your funeral, I didn’t say no, because I love her, and this was the first time I thought of someone other than myself.