Heritage

First published in Baby Teeth Journal, 2020

I met a lot of the same people

when I moved back to my hometown.

The first friend I made used to sit next to me

in the cafeteria during junior high school.

 

I hear talk that she left to have a baby.

 

We went trick-or-treating in the autumn

with her beautiful little girl.

 

Utterances:

I had a threesome

with the pizza delivery guys I worked with on the hood of a car.

 

I was asked to buckle the little girl into her car seat

as she cried in the mall parking lot.

I’ve never been good with children,

but I liked her daughter.

 

We stopped one time in the crispy leaves

to look inside a maze made of haystacks.

 

We should run away together

(Her husband was in Iraq)

and become lesbian lovers.

 

Let’s start something, I thought.

But then I thought that maybe she was sad.

 

I spent a lot of time in the trailer of her boyfriend’s parents,

and sometimes we would talk about the map on the wall

behind the door with a little red marker pointing out Iraq.

 

The little girl would cry;

she looked like her father who I also went to high school with

when he had a rat-tail. I didn’t know him too well.

 

There was a good culinary school in Albany.

She liked to cook.

 

The best words for loss:

       pitted, shucked, shelled,

       descale, peel, scallop

 

She had a gay friend in community college

that talked about Versace

the way people talk about escaping a sinking ship.

 

We started a clothing line made of an acronym

of our first names.

I drew out a logo on the back of a McDonald’s

take-out bag in her car.

 

I was looking for a subject to craft something about.

 

In my memories, I found something:

Cornfields full of sharp stalks,

running through rows and trying not to trip

and bear the brunt of blood wounds.

 

Wounded, as they’d call it: coming back from a war

or from an absence.

 

I was looking for a subject to craft something about;

but finding home is about as fruitless

as waiting for apple trees in winter.