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Pterodactyl

by Frankie Sanchez




We come to a complete stop.
At a red light.
We wear our arms like seat-belts-
crossed for protecting our pilot lights.*
I can't help but wonder how many airbags might deploy
if a meteor crashed headfirst and heavyset into the planet
and pancaked us eternally into this moment-
and how our fossils would look confused;
funeral flowers on a wedding cake.

None of this matters, we're both thinking it,
God is a foster child playing with his erector set.

You grin with as much conviction as a dented automobile,
breaking the months of silence to say,
"I miss you."

We can never fold these road maps back the way they came.

Somewhere existentially above this moment, there is an asterisk
that confirms
you- are here.

There was a younger version of me that you never got to meet,
he was here once,
stupid as a slinky.
Shaken like an Etch-A-Sketch.
Crooked as the question mark that punctuated his voice.
I looked good in hydroplane,
my eyes- bigger than my belly,
so I drank my weight in promises- I knew would be hard to keep within arms reach.
I also knew an encyclopedia's worth of how it felt to lie to myself.
I did it for twenty-three years
until I finally let go of stupid and held on to reason.

At some age I wrote letters to my favorite musicians,
using the sloppiest side of my penmanship, I'd ask for answers
and my mother, like a paperclip, used to tell me - she'd say,
"Kiddo, just because they don't respond
doesn't mean they didn't get the message."

She kept her chest of hope upstairs, away from the living room.
She only opened it on the hallow end of October;
that's where she kept the blankets.

Shy, I kept my hope chest covered in a T-shirt-
at the very least.
I never opened up.
I emptied my toy box of all its fiction, filled it with voices.
Deployed an army of rubber wrestlers, martial arts amphibians
and those inanimate toy soldiers with plastic parachutes attached
in search of the confidence I knew was supposed to belly-flop inside of me.

It hid, unfound for decades.
Until you entered.

Hawaiian domino effect, circus of chain reactions, avalanche of affirmation, chest-plate yielding gravity mouth speaking brightest anything forever night light, all apex and eyelash and cheekbone.
You -from big island- broke me.
I opened like the dry side of an umbrella, kept my back turned for shielding you.
I showed up for love on time, like a subway train in echelon city
wanting these arms to feel less like turnstiles.

All my sign languages were in waves.
All my ceilings turned to skies.
All my jitters packed into my hunger stomach.
Typing hyper with caffeinated hands
a swarm of nervous words bee-hiving in my butterfly chest.
Something like a hummingbird
when I finally drop your name like an alarm clock whisper
my lungs empty like cathedrals on the day after Christmas.

I brought the sermon to your Sundays,
you brought the choir to my masses.
We built a church around these esophagus bell towers.
Held ourselves up to the stained glass and showed off our light;

I swear I don't believe in a lot of things, God knows,
but there's always a but,
so much as I believe in the eternal depth of everything,
so much as I believe that we'd have plenty of water if it weren't for salt,
so much as I believe in eight marbles rolling around a gas lamp,
I believed we'd find a way.

'Cause in all the ways my sky could never hold you- and I mean this-
I believed in you- same way some people believe in Jesus.

Because you never judged my albatross mouth when I said things like,
"Self deprecation is the new love."
You kissed me-
less like doorstop,
more like lighthouse illuminating windmill.

You were a merry-go-round pivot decorated in Kona coffee beans, christmas lights, cough syrup, paper mache pineapples, plastic dinosaur bones, a collection of worn-out Asics, board shorts and a dubstep remix broadcast through the static of a blown-out rotary phone.

You were everything I could get my hands on-

A full-tilt action-packed kaleidoscope jungle
with blender tongue and volcano heart.
I looked good in your sad panda coat tails,
teaspoon swallowing my doubts
while you Tarzaned my ability to breathe,
gave me ocean view and weak knees.
Is that sea breeze in your aftermath or are there already tears in my happiness?

You came camouflage out of my blind spot dressed in magnet armor,
diving board and drum set.
We passionbent cymbals into cannonballs.

I found comfort between your breastplate and your shoulder blades,
where you held me like a promise
when all my wishing was for want
and all your wanting was for wishes

Granted,

I know that there were days when you couldn't help but wake up like gorilla speaking Pidgin
and I couldn't help but waking up like an abandoned highway with a chip on my shoulder-
some maps don't show this much detail, Google Earth-

Which is why I always came through for you like a well-lit citrus truck stop
pressed against the dusk in your moonlight life crisis.
We only saw stars.
From our moon base.
In bewilderment, in our hunger, we learned
that if you hold me to my vending machines you'll get what you pay for.

So here it is, the truth, as I have always known it,
delivered to you on the outskirts of an echo,
my voice, supporting my existence like a monolith.

I'm standing in the middle of a you-shaped hole.
It's as wide as a promise crater-
we built it together.
It's not my favorite place to stand
but the exit strategies are made in the shape of a me that I haven't constructed yet.
I had a lot of things planned.
I referred to things as "ours",
when I really meant "please".

Bury me in your time lapse.
When your emotional excavators discover me in your sediment
they'll find me all pterodactyl-
wings spread wide as potential, sky-diving toward forgiveness,
forever.

Truth is, I'm wingless.

We met at a stop sign.
Our paths crossed.

There's a lot of accidents at some intersections.
Maybe it's because that's not where those two roads were supposed to meet.

We can't time machine argue with the way things landed.

We weren't an avoidable accident.
We were just two cars that really wanted to dance.

I don't know what I'm trying to say but I know when I mean it.

There's a tyrannosaurus rex cradled head-to-tail just behind my curator heart-
all fossil spine, monster teeth, jaw head and piano hands.
His presence says a lot about the past.
There's an asterisk on the surface,
above this moment,
that confirms with absolute certainty,

*something wicked awesome happened here.


10/02/2011

Author's Note: You can hear me read it here.

Posted on 10/03/2011
Copyright © 2016 Frankie Sanchez

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Meghan Helmich on 10/03/11 at 08:24 AM

I really love "Which is why I always came through for you like a well-lit citrus truck stop..."

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 10/03/11 at 04:13 PM

I think I may have to just go ahead and do that. This is an unbelievable descent into your considerable, impressive thought process, and it deserves to be experienced in as many different formats as possible.

Posted by Lori Blair on 10/11/11 at 07:52 PM

"We weren't an avoidable accident. We were just two cars that really wanted to dance." loved that line especially..but so well written..must read more!

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