WE MADE CHOPSTICK WALRUSES ❋ Elena Robidoux
at the Chinese restaurant, with the chalky mints,
and the tank of oversized koi. And something in the air of fairies.
Maybe it was the pollen, which churned the wind like a snow globe,
debris the colour of curry. Don’t you miss those days,
the clouds of marsh flies, our arms dotted in bites?
We were, relatively speaking, shitheads
still getting carted around
in your granddad’s silver Volvo;
manual windows and itchy wool seat covers
that smelled like pine. Got stoned,
in the gut of your rhododendron, then
walked through boneyards like zombies.
Yep, we killed all your neighbour’s succulents
and still got paid. Indifference was a fashion statement.
Once we made out in a field, overrun with weeds.
I frowned afterwards (queer), then spit on an anthill.
Your recovery required vanilla bean ice cream with frozen berries –
a victory on my jade chess set from Pakistan,
the one with the cracked rook
we’d always substitute for a nickel. So resourceful.
There was the summer, we lived in Providence.
Remember, we had jobs?
You greeted hookers at a Marriott in Woburn.
I sold overpriced croissants.
My specialty was assigning facts to calories;
a financier resembles a bar of gold…I forgot the rest
They fired me after a month because I “looked too frazzled”
I stole five macaroons for us, before leaving,
kept the ugly gingham shirt. Our apartment was dirt cheap;
bachata bled from the lowriders outside,
the upstairs tenant’s name was “Buddha.”
He definitely thought we were fucking.
I would always come back to you cleaning, organising.
You put empty soup and vegetable cans in the dishwasher
and I found that so OCD.
Hey, I was wondering, are you doing alright?
The last time we saw each other,
you had lost both front teeth in a bar fight.
You’d sometimes put an unlit cigarette
in the raw, stitched-up hole.
The resulting lisp left me smiling, so hick.
But later you self-admitted to local rehab and
I wasn’t allowed to visit. When I asked how it was
you told me you just coloured
and listened to a playlist of indie music
that an earthy lesbian
compiled for you on a sticky note.
Sometimes, when I worry,
I picture that sherbet sunset
we saw right before I left.
The river was frozen, and the trees
looked like running ink,
silhouetting against the water.
Memory is a wobbly plinth.
I live in the past to be okay.