The Day Charley Leaves Me
I turn into butter. I melt in the pan. I flavor my pancakes. I sizzle and moan.
The day Charley leaves me, I turn into air. I flitter the songbirds right out of the trees. I am cold and then colder. I whistle and fade.
I am better off, I say to my mirror-self, my toothbrush-self, my scrub-a-dub self. Charley was drink too much and never call, and I had become a stranger. I stopped my own life, and took a seat. I waited for Charley and only lived those few when he looked at me.
The day Charley leaves I turn filmstrip, all whirl and slap and light flash. I watch myself at five years, ten. I am Daddy don’t leave us, and Mom don’t curl into a hurtball, let your hair fade, close yourself in your room.
The day Charley leaves me, I turn fire and water, burn and drench and burn again. I turn mountain and valley. I climb way up to my highest part, look down at the grasspatch and rivertrickle below. I turn into jump.
The day Charley calls again, I have gone rock solid. It’s been months now and my fingers stroke my own hard sureness. I am so far from butter and air and filmstrip and valley.
The day Charley calls again, I hang up the phone. His voice a sweet coating in my ear. I turn into a riddle. I am chickens crossing the road, I am a lightbulb changing myself and how many would it take for me to just keep going and not look back. I am wishing I knew my own answer.