Top Ten Memories of the Green Chair
The green chair was the width of a three-year-old
so when stretched horizontally across your legs
I was perfectly encapsulated by its soft, mushy arms and you
you put cherry blossoms in my curls
I'm tiny, hiding from the babysitter behind the green chair for hours
she's losing her mind, talking about calling the police
Later you tell me this is a brutal prank to play on someone's first day on the job
We went to the rodeo for the fourth of July
Everything was fine until the explosions began
I bury my face in the lower corner,
hoping the chair can swallow my ears
and make fireworks never happen again
rocking softly by the woodstove
burning the logs of unsold Christmas trees
We didn't celebrate Christmas but we grew the trees for those who did and you said
something important about others worshipping in their own ways
In the season of the mustard bloom
When the wineries came with their out of state money
and the gravel roads all got paved
you brought twelve soaking migrant workers to our house for hot oolong tea
they sat in the living room, dining room, and green chair
you said something was wrong with their wages
Later we drove them back to the vineyards, their legs hanging over the tailgate of the Ford, our
hair frizzed and sprinkled with rain, yellow everywhere
We didn't call it bullying back then, we just called it a hard day
In Los Angeles I lost more than my honor, I lost my whole self
A teen has no reliable way to verbalize the internal
disturbances that follow a rape so you listened with your eyes
Who was so cruel to you that you vowed to be kind?
Who was so gracious to you that you had nothing but good left to spare?
Put me in my chair please and never make me stand again
Through the pleather, from the foam, a cheery perfume of Douglas fir
I will do homework forever
Let's see if we can still squeeze into the green chair
and read our essays together.
Let's apply for college together.
The look in your eyes reading scholarship letters.
(sitting in the green chair)
When you started sleeping all of the time
It was nice to see the comfort that the green chair could bring
when a vitamin regimen couldn't
when a drug couldn't
when Chinese Medicine couldn't Once even I couldn't
Three hours after you died
Rocking horribly, white shock hissing through my nerves
This isn't really a favorite memory, just the last memory
I knew in that moment the green chair was
Too precious to sell, too functional to throw away, too onerous to keep
It would have to be set on a pyre built of unsold Christmas trees
atop a raft of cherry blossom trees
and driven out to Pacific City at night,
under the cover of Tillamook County haze
to be pulled out of the back of the pickup truck
to be dragged across the sand into a cold and unforgiving sea
to be set ablaze by a sapling arrow shot from atop a sand dune
with an arrowhead you scavenged from the Utah desert as a child
lit by the color of my hair
tell me this is a worthy death for one item
owned or touched by you.
In the Valley of Secrets
From across the salt flats a bitter wind
rose and wound its way through rocky pass dwellings of
those who've renounced money, whispered
in through the accountant's open window, into lungs
that never smoked except when he was sixteen after 4H
and slipped out as a death rattle into the night flurries over Wy'east.
Under the watchful eye of rose stained glass
the heavy-lidded shuffled, bearing hot tins of
sliced peking duck and succulent bok choi and delicate pork wontons.
Progeny music from the garden
ambled down to the Schnitz; flamenco
dancers went hand in hand with coffee
roasters and single mothers.
Now is the time to make things. You got the hot jazz you wanted, 30
reams, a bay window, my lower belly, and that large art deco piece.
Now the goal is to drink better and better bottles of wine, so when
with smart colleagues, never hoot, “Best wine in the world!” It gets
better. Ignore massive, mounting pain. Focus on getting a job in your
field. Only one of us did, and it's not scary talking to inmates, she
says, because you're just Skyping with them really, they don't even
know your full real name. The bed is finally the right size, still
most nights we just fall in shivering with our three-step regimens and
rarely you touch me. Costa Rica is on the fridge like a branding iron
on my flank. There are too many splinters in my new desk and me.
If I call out, I want to use my full real name.