Following My Shadows
I followed him by bike.
him because I was sure that he was my second grade teacher even
though I knew it was impossible.
him because I wanted to relive the year I learned to write in script, starred
in my first school play, and learned to wear a catcher's mask.
I followed the
man because he was my orthodontist and he reminded me of wiry beams, of rubber
bands and enameled tattoos, nocturnal cervical torture devices, caked with pizza
and bite plates fermenting with chocolate chip batter.
I followed him because
he was my barber pounding his weapon on a leather strap, lathering my earlobes
with heated menthol, towel snapping, basting the faces of overgrown grey haired
men, introducing me to the bazaar world of serpentine baldness and misplaced
hair parts, twisted in Picasso-like side weaves, mutton chopped, wind
blown coiffures portrayed on decades old and unbleached advertisements,
hair swept across the floor like in concentration camps.
him because he was my baby sitter. The one with the glass eye, who helped me
peel off Colorforms. He told me the story of a boy trapped in a well, tickled
me with yellowing fingernails that smelled like sardines and finally said goodnight.
Then he snuck in my room an hour later and slapped my bare ass hard over
his lap, the punishment, he said for being awake after the theme
song to Petticoat Junction.
him because he was my gym teacher and encouraged the others to slam a rubbery
red ball into my delicate face or dared me to bloody my eczematous palms from
chin-ups, or encouraged me to run another frigid loop until I coughed
a tickled wheeze.
I followed him because he was the surgeon who removed
my mother's breast and left his signature underneath her padded brassiere then
waited patiently for her annual return until she was gone and I
bring me closer
to the daughter I never had
in the empty womb
rocking from the lax
cords my wife calls