This part of the river is popular for suicide attempts. But if you go early, it’s not usually this busy. A twenty-something woman writhes on the pavement, her right leg splayed at a gruesome angle, her face contorted with pain. Huddled over her are three friends whose idea of help after a night of drinking is to yell, “C’mon! Stand up!” That’s the problem with people who are used to putting Velveeta on enchiladas. They can’t tell anymore what’s culturally appropriate. I just want my heart to stop shredding like a flock of gulls being sucked into a plane engine.
As someone who grew up around here, I have a magnifying glass for examining things that people bring in or that I find on the street. One day it might be the bloated carcass of a dog; another, a teddy bear like the one my sister had when she was little. Today an older couple came in with the alphabet prowling around them. The noise in the room was overwhelming, but I thought I heard him say modern homes burn 8x faster. Then I glanced out the window, and there were so many fires I couldn’t even see the sky.
These children held at the border in pens have to figure out how not to die. They can be in a spot one moment and gone the next. Are they scared? Are they crying? Are they making up songs? Some have had teeth knocked out. I don’t pray and I don’t believe in ghosts, but sometimes it just happens, a spontaneous shrine, the blossoming apple tree, the way it shakes in the wind, shedding white polka dots.
Howie Good is the author of The Loser’s Guide to Street Fighting, winner of the 2017 Lorien Prize from ThoughtCrime Press. His latest collections are I’m Not a Robot from Tolsun Books and A Room at the Heartbreak Hotel from Analog Submissions Press.