In Poems & Fiction

Cotton-Candy Pink

At the laundromat, I can hold my breath for half-an-hour.  I don’t know where one thought ends and another begins. Felicia has different colored wigs. One is cotton-candy pink. Once, she took me dancing.  It was my birthday. The music was everywhere, but I noticed my thoughts were accelerating like it was too late. Some of them were talking in a secret language. Sometimes thoughts are like other people. They have their lives, while I’m having mine. No big deal. At the dance, it was a nice cross-section of people. They were all wearing clothes and shoes. Felicia said, Ray, you look sad as a mall Santa.  I told her I like to dance, but I had some things I needed to do. A Sly and the Family Stone tribute band was taking everybody higher, so I went outside. In the dark, the city crouched down, and the buildings looked like a crowd of appliances. It was hot and I heard sirens in the distance. I wondered what was going on in the sky. They say when you sleep your muscles become paralyzed to stop you from acting out your dreams. I wanted to go back inside to dance, but the stars seemed lost, like they were moving to somewhere new and needed someone to say farewell. Felicia came outside to smoke a cigarette, and she said, Oh, here you are, like I was a surprise. Tonight, she wore a flame red wig. There were a lot of things I could have said when her two sleeping kids died in that Christmas blaze, but I didn’t. I’m still not sure what color her real hair is.

Appears in The American Journal of Poetry, July, 2018.

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