“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces.” —Moby Dick
I still sometimes imagine your face rippling beneath the surface, peering at me from pothole puddles and glasses of whiskey – your lips lifting and lowering in ambiguity, your freckles, miniature galaxies of melanin, spiraling over cheeks, pale eyes pin pricks of confusion.
Your sister and I skipped school together, hid on the floorboards of her rust-pocked truck, her fingers entwined in your long red hair as she held down your head, tires slinging gravel out the gate after the bell. We’d spend the day smoking weed and sketching, you showering us with Fritos and reading Moby Dick out loud.
You were the perfect foil for our willful ways, the tether to our hot air balloons. We wallpapered those crumbling walls with our trippy imaginings and your favorite passages, wrote our names in decades old dust. But for you we might have ended up in a ditch somewhere, might have become the drowned ones.
They say shafts of sunlight set your hair afire even as errant strands languished in sediment, in a turbid haze of creek and twisted metal. Your sister used to say, “Be kind and the universe will take care of you.” – but it didn’t take care of you, the kindest boy I knew.
Charlotte Hamrick’s poetry, prose, and photography has been published in The Rumpus, Literary Orphans, Connotation Press, Eunoia Review, and numerous other journals. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a Finalist for the 15th Glass Woman Prize for her Creative Non-Fiction. She is Creative Nonfiction Editor for Barren Magazine. She lives in New Orleans with her husband and a menagerie of rescued pets. Follow her on Twitter @charlotteAsh. Website: zouxzoux.wordpress.com