October

Location

My great great uncle fried potatoes every night

for his pet dogs to eat.

He was never married.

 

On rainy days, there is a chill

that prickles the hair on my arms

and seeps into my bones.

It settles there

for the rest of the day.

 

Every October Friday night,

my friends drag me to the high school football game,

and I try to pay attention

but I always find myself

staring at the stars in the darkness

by the middle of the third quarter.

 

My great great uncle died of a heart attack

and they found his body on his kitchen floor

with potatoes still frying on the stove,

burnt black by then.

I can imagine the dogs whining

and their sad eyes

and their cold noses

pressing up against his stiffened fingers

that day in October.

 

When it rains, I cannot play the piano

even when I run scalding water over my hands

because water cannot reach my frozen bones

buried beneath thin layers of muscle and ligament and skin.

 

One October when I was sixteen,

I chopped off eight inches of my hair,

but I still stood alone

at the football game.

 

My great great uncle swore like a sailor.

My twin brother does the same.

 

Sometimes I freeze solid on sunny October days

and I can count my heartbeat in my chest

and it's always too fast

and I wonder if I'm going to have a heart attack.

 

Ethan asked me about the stars once

on a Friday in October

and he did not listen to me tell him

the story of Orion.

I talked stars to his silence

for the rest of the game.

 

I learned about my great great uncle

while eating fried potatoes

because that's what made my mother remember.

 

I count my heartbeats even when I'm not frozen

and I wash my hands with scalding water

even when it doesn't rain.

 

I thought Ethan would listen to me talk stars

but the only star he wanted to hear about

was himself.

 

I do not want to learn how to fry potatoes,

my dog's cold wet nose makes me sad sometimes,

and I wish my brother would stop swearing.

 

I fall apart many times each day

when nobody seems to be looking

and I always scare myself

by accidentally imagining the stopping of my heart.

 

When I stand looking upward in the dark,

the back of my neck bare,

I can hear my heart

and I wish I had a pair of gloves.

 

Every day I wonder

if my brother's heart tries too hard

like mine does,

and I wonder

if my great great uncle

was lonely.

 

One of these days,

my heart will stop

and my fingers will stiffen

and the chill will seep into my bones.

This will happen

no matter how many heartbeats I count.

 

Even if I were not lonely

I would still be afraid of my heart,

but at least someone would listen to me talk stars.

 

History is doomed to repeat itself

because every person alive 

has a beating heart

and every person alive

will soon be dead.

 

I hope someone's fingers

are still warm enough

to play music when I die.

 

Every October Friday night,

I tell myself that

I am not afraid of stars.

Comments

Chebrya

This poem took me places emotionally...its beautiful

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