"Maybe it's not about the (crazy) happy ending.
... Maybe it's about the (crazy) story."
by Erin Lee
I hope there’s no God.
‘Cause if there’s God, it’s forever winter. He knows ‘bout my two lives: My two wives. The time I stomped a kitten’s head into concrete ‘cause I couldn’t decide. He’s counted notches on my bed. Me? I lost track in ‘73.
Memories come alive.
The Vietnamese whores I paid to save: Helped survive. Just that kind of guy. The crumbly girl I wrapped round my leather belt to feel alive. I can still smell her – apple pie and peppermint: A girl scout. Mine. She wore knee socks in July.
The IV leaks into my hand.
I remember rainstorms and the fried dough taste of summer. Fireworks. The pier. Playing chicken on the lake: Double dare.
I wonder, is there heaven for them other kind? They go to church on Sundays, not just when mother or the grandkids stop by. They never swear or lie. Eating shortcake, roast beef.
“Sir? We need to call you wife.”
Wives. I turn away, telling myself God is only make-believe. A fairytale for the weak. “Don’t need a wife to die.”
“But Sir…” She might cry.
“Do you believe in God?” I look her in the eye.
My IV drips borrowed time. Drop. Drip. Drop.
I stare past her, through the blinds. Icicles grip the windows’ edge, tight like gifts for grandkids on my dime. I look away.
It’s wintertime. A snowball fight. Can’t be more than nine. He throws me in a snowbank. Ice bites my cheek. Blood trickles from my nose. I can’t taste it. I stand, rubbing the gritty cold from my eyes, and chase him.
“That’s right! …Run! You’re mine.”
I curse myself for not listening. ‘Cause Mother said boots had better grip. But I don’t let loafers stop me: “Time to die!” I slip. Another lie.
Drop. Drip. Drop.
I miss Mother. Old man’s second wife. ‘Cause I decide: if there ain’t no God, it’s always summertime. I close my eyes. The IV gone. Mittens packed with white. Windshield fluid. Frostbite. Snowball fights.
I should have packed my snow boots.
By Erin Lee
My hips have spread
Like the decades
and the lines on my stomach
Tattoos to the children I’ve birthed
A butterfly sits upon my back
Like I hope she isn’t -
Too busy playing
Where we’ll meet again.
In the mirror
My coffee eyes melt
Into soft folds that have seen too much
Know too little.
Winking at the giggles
Frozen upon my cheeks
Where little boys
Dance in fields
My hopes have grown
Like the memories
And shadows beneath
Odes to the children I’ve raised
And given wings.
An old dog sits upon my couch
Like I wish he wouldn’t -
Too afraid to lose him too
In the dark
My smooth hands
Glide across warm keys that know
And write with frantic speed.
Laughing at the little things
Etched inside of me
Where grown men
Take on new shape
My years have taught
Shaped and shown
For this, I do embrace
The grand old age
Of Forty – me!