When I was eleven years old,
on Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride,
sitting in that little roller coaster boat, I just knew something was happening, that those pirates were trying to tell me something. They were acting out from the downright anger I felt from my mother’s death and the silent censorship seeping from the ugly eyes of adults. They raged against my father’s inability to communicate, to express his feelings. They raged from all those hellish hours I endured in school, teachers never sitting me down
and helping me through my feelings of guilt
and abandonment. Those pirates were singing and drinking to rage against the sadness in my brother’s eyes, to rage against my father’s loneliness, and the fact that our home
was no longer a home with a mother,
haunted with memories
of her being wheeled around in a wheelchair
with the smell of T.V. dinners in the oven.
They were pirates and they sailed dangerous
black seas at night and found treasures
full of adventure, and they chased laughing women with beautiful bouncing breasts, and they broke the rules and didn’t give a damn; they were the kind of men I wanted to be. I wanted out, whatever it was this world was setting me up for, whatever it was offering me. I wanted to be a pirate out of sheer survival, even if it meant battles filled with the possibility of death, with cannonballs exploding water between anchored ships, even if it meant sailing through lightning and rain without flesh, my hand-bones clenching a ship’s steering wheel and my skeleton-body standing with ragged-torn clothes that flapped in a stormy wind.
I was too young to formulate all this my head, of course, to actually understand
these unconscious thoughts and emotions.
But they were there, singing with those decaying-toothed-swashbucklers. They were there in the flames behind broken windows, in the total disregard and destruction of mediocrity.
They were there, all clumped together
and blazing with adrenaline
as I looked up
and saw a fat, smiling pirate sitting on the ledge of an arched bridge.
He was singing
and drinking a mug of wine
with one of his legs hanging over the ledge
as my little coaster-boat
My heart thumping, I looked up at that drunk,
and I smiled, unable to take my eyes
off the bottom of his foot.
I knew it wasn’t real, but I couldn’t stop staring; I even noticed and memorized little dirty details, the callous on the ball of the foot and the fat, stumpy toes. I wanted to stand up in the boat and touch that foot.
That foot was more real to me
than all the worksheets
given to me
in all the years of my schooling.
That foot was a road for me.
That foot dangles in the nostalgia
of my childhood, three dimensional,
like a sculpture sticking out of the frame
of a painting,
alive and moving
on its own.
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