A poem by Adrian Patenaude
Photo by Lucius Patenaude.
you always wanted a dancer's body. an airbender body barely
touching the ground. any body but yours. anybody, you could
be anybody in a crowd. you go to concerts alone and learn to
dance. but you’re not a dancer and you’re not fooling anybody.
least of all yourself. you buy a gauzy summer shawl at a goodwill
boutique. you wear it all summer long over a long summer dress.
you take a vacation because isn’t that what you do in summer
when you’re young and have a good paying job? the plane lands
and you feel nothing. you go to concerts and you don’t feel like
dancing. your paying job pays for a nice meal and it’s just okay.
okay, so what’s wrong? you can’t answer the question. answer
the question! the answer pools in your throat but you can’t spit
it out. you can’t even taste it. maybe you’ve lost your sense of
smell. you breathe through your nose to keep from drowning.
you pretend it’s yoga. it’s summer and people are doing yoga
in the park. summer is when you meet the snake in the park. it's
a tame snake, draped around a black man’s shoulders. you gasp
because the snake is spotted, yellow and cool like tile. cool like
lying down on tile on a hot summer day. only moving. the snake
is a thick cord of muscle, spooling, never stopping. it moves you
to joy. a crowd gathers but you can’t stop smiling. the black man
is smiling and you thank him for sharing his coiling companion.
companion, you needed a companion. God knew you needed
a companion. even a snake in the park would do.