I remember school
was a puzzle there were children of all colorsI loved a white boy with a bald head and a wide toothless smile who never looked at me he crunched apples I had one too but his bigger and I loved a boy named Brady my color same hue as his as tan bark scattered under the teeter-totter and monkey bars, and inside the wet chalk smell of clay real wet clay, dried my fingers a soft gray, clay that sculptors use, not playdough, or teal-blown rectangle men we called Gumby. No. but the real thing. Standing at the easel putting on a daisy splashed smock made me feel like I was preg-a-nant like the day blood ran down her leg, house reeking of decaying water and she almost died, because my little sister, the fighter, rotated furiously to stay alive in the belly, that almost killed them both. And he said. And he said. if I must choose. Let the baby die
and there was a girl named Coy had long curls formed a pony tail in the shape of a question mark. falling in love with curls that day and it was nap time we laid on the hard stripes of bath towels we brought from home. close your eyes. And then first day of kindergarten was over. in the school yard, the teacher closed the door, no oneJust this expanse of sky and dust road where dogs roamed unleashed traveled in wild packs and if your foot touched the wrong stone, break your mother’s back or the world could endcould not picture the world blowing up into dandelions seeds or moon crashing to the ground and exploding the earth, one zero, after the next no I thought of blue clouds, if there was really such a thing as a skunk or was the teacher making that up, and why were girls, squatting to lift up their dresses, exposing a flare of vaginas, shiny buttocks like flashing new dimes behind the piano, I walked to find, why , just walkwalked alone not knowing where I was going when a car pulled alongside and screeched to a stop. Two people in front seat, at the wheelthe man was silent and sullen, nothing and the woman , shiny black hair, blinding yellow scarf draped around her neck, matching canary-colored summer dress, pale against dark banana of skin, sunlight ricocheted, and I swayed against the vibrations of that beauty.
there was no one
not my brothers or my small sister just an empty space for me to crawl into.my mother turned to look at me over her shoulder, bright pink mouth twisted look at her shoes they are scuffedmy new shoesthe color of dull rusted candymy red maryjanes looked as if it had been a hard life. shoes and then I remembered as the car gained miles
I remembered I was walking in a vague direction called home
Kathy Z. Price is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry. She’s also a Hedgebrook and Edward Albee Fellow, a recipient of Archie & Bertha Walker Poetry Fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown. Recent work was published by storySouth, and more work is included or forthcoming in TriQuarterly, Rumpus, Cincinnati Review, Bayou, Pleiades, and Prairie Schooner among others.
Artwork by: Masaaki Komori