In high school
I was commissioned to do reconnaissance.
My equipment was the digital camera—
thick brick of a silver Fuji,
it even took video but without sand—
my parents gave me for Christmas.
The year was 2003.
Nine months into the U.S.’s occupation of Iraq,
Mission Accomplished for seven months at this point—
I remember buying every line we were fed
and sweating at the possibility
they’d bring back the draft,
bring it back like somebody told me
those killers would sing about next year,
and supporting it anyway,
I wasn’t selfish and I hate freedom fries and I loved America—
Americans encouraged to be patriots and act
to report “any suspicious activity,”
to spy on their neighbors,
and there I was,
in the house my mom would have to sell off
in the divorce in the months after
the Christmas I was commissioned,
getting charged by my father
to circumvent proceedings that had yet to start,
proceedings that would determine how much “wealth” Mom possessed.
It was Mom who took all our family’s photos
and instilled in me the fascination with lenses and gears and film
and orange dates in broken-bar monospace fonts
in the bottom right corners of 4×6 prints
that littered our cabinets and boxes and photo albums,
all shot on her point-and-shoot black Fuji camera
that somehow reminded me of the Ford Taurus we used to have,
on Fuji and Kodak film—
oh the oily plastic smell
puts me at risk of falling
into childhood with every canister I open.
(1) the wood china cabinet with mirrored back
and glass shelves and true keys with old-style locks
and a power cord appearing somewhere out the back
to power the lights in its roof,
controlled by the upper hinge on the right side,
pre-aged golden brass,
tap it and play God,
cycle through the three brightnesses and Off,
endless amusement for me in my elementary days,
and (2) the master closet with built-ins to organize,
built in by the organizers Mom brought in to organize
all the bedroom closets,
oddly sturdy pressed-wood shelves and drawers
and hanging spaces that cost and cost but helped and helped
and helped (I’m sure) sell the house.
My target: silver china that we had never used,
that we would never use,
that we had never opened
and that, like our hearts, we never would.
Supposedly worth a good chunk—
a handful of hundreds, at least—
worth more than my trust,
worth more than Mom’s trust,
worth more than every hug he’d ever given me.
[ 20150411 ]
Austin’s Coffee. Winter Park, FL. At the day change, forcing myself to write a crappy first draft.