By Ron Riekki
I’m Sick and My Parents are Sick and the Rain is Sick and the Night is Sick and the Day, I expect, will also be, but I’m alive and my PTSD counselor tells me to keep a gratitude journal, so I do, but, unfortunately, its sick, the pages coughing, the cover, pale, the binding without any eyesight, and so I look in the mirror, the fevered mirror, steam caked to its surface, post-shower, an attempt to clear my nose, but I’ve failed at being healthy, have this new symptom of tremors, chronic earthquaking where my ex- hugged me and asked, Are you cold? No, just old. Just shook. My sympathetic nervous system unable to calm down. I look up at the sick clock in my room, how it tocks like it’s choking. It’s beautiful, that clock. Every sick thing is beautiful.
Olen asunut idioottina I remember nothing of Aprils, so many Aprils, fifty Aprils, Aprils upon Aprils, all of those Aprils, & all of this memory loss, the first fist fight in first grade, how they came like blizzards, flakes, all this falling, my hometown’s jack pine & oaks, its alum root & firs—a forest filled with four- letter words, the woods cursing at us with flowers, its pollen, our pollution, all those tires tossed in the creek behind our house, ex-house, a sick house tore down due to its lead-lined walls, how it bled into us, the hack marks in the hall where I saw myself grow from pencil slash to black-marker top where I stopped, my max, & my birthday, the end of April, start of May, the First, the snow still falling in summer, how we were so north that we had nine months of winter, a pregnancy of snow squall, engulfed in ghost, how the suicides were forgotten so quickly, how our state bird is an eraser, how our state motto is the shush sign, how our state animal is a jam-packed bar in Negaunee, how the state flag is a napkin with a fake phone number illegibly scribbled, going home to try all of the different variations it could possibly be, how often I felt I was living a Hamlet mono- logue, how it was a mining town, and a logging town, a lake town where it would take at least one senior every year, how the drowned would sink in our minds, become absent from our skin, how April was the end of a semester where another summer would begin, the slight heat of the Fourth, where my uncle would never stand during the National Anthem, because he had no legs.
Photograph by Vishnu Prasad