By Nathan Anderson
Featured Image: Summer Morning by David Lucas, 1830
Nah, it’s not that, I wouldn’t call it that, I mean molested
that’s like TV stuff, and Brenna
she’d be real nice sometimes like flesh and blood should.
Bring me back a chocolate frosty just because.
Anyway, I’d just as soon say we’re done,
or you want I should go through it all like I did in June
with the last one? Twice now—and this just goes to show
the system’s jacked—twice I’ve waited, asked the front desk ladies
and waited, I said people I need a little help and you’re telling me two hours?
In all this hospital you’re telling me there’s no one I can talk to now?
I said what about the dude mopping floors? Is he around?
Can I talk to him? Or do I go ahead and slit my wrists right here?
So they hauled me up to you, another white coat
working the psych ward. A woman. What’s up with that?
No offense or nothing. That’s just how they do me
down on first-floor, where everyone else on earth is. You ever one of those
ER docs I see running around? The way I figure it, a woman like you
doesn’t need to run. You’re all put together—you know, like a car
that’s just come off the line . . . . But okay, this isn’t about you.
I read you loud and clear. But what I’m saying, with Brenn
I wouldn’t call it abuse. She practically raised me while Mom
pulled swing shifts at the warehouse. Up and down the hall
they’d chase me, downstairs and up, screaming like they had the crazies,
Brenna and a couple friends with these real woman-type bodies
and what was I, nine, ten maybe? Isn’t it all there in your little blue folder?
. . . You always make it match like that? The dress, I mean.
Blue and blue. Is that like a power thing?
Because I’m cool with authority or whatever. And honestly
if I could get a little help—isn’t there a pill or something?—I’d go back
out the doors of this place, back into my Ford F250
with the dented front fender and into the tan coveralls I tossed
in the truck bed, all the way back into the garage
where I’m under a Dodge four-door like all the other
gearheads at the lube and tire shop. But what I keep
going back to is this: cartoons Saturday morning and Brenna’s black
Def Leppard T-shirt that smelled like some dude’s armpits.
Couple of her friends . . . Brenna and them holding me down
so that when I got up it was just me and my undies. Know what I mean?
Not a onetime thing is what I’m talking about. Clothes from my room
would be on the front lawn or hid away someplace.
I thought it was funny. Running out onto the wet grass
in front of God and everybody. I wasn’t “violated.” But if I wanted my shit back,
she’d make me put it on—red lipstick, or a skirt maybe—Brenna would, or I’d pay,
believe me, I’d pay. But going around the house like that, it was funny.
I don’t know. Everybody laughed. I liked it, whatever that means.
It’s like life’s this soccer game, and I’m out there on the field
scoring all these goals, only the goals don’t count—
not because I’m offside or anything—but because I’m a guy
and this is all-girls soccer. Know what I mean?
My being on the field is like one huge violation. When I think about it,
Bugs Bunny brings it all home. That episode
he suits up in this girl-gear like I did—You know that one? Seriously, YouTube it.
Lipstick and skirt, strutting back and forth, swinging his hips . . .
Point is, he knows how to handle it, whatever it is, Bugs knows.
He knows underneath all that makeup
there’s just a rabbit there, a regular dude, who just wants
to be back in the forest, you know, chillin’ with nature,
like loving it and chillin’ with it. A regular guy
who walks between trees and whistles a tune
when he digs his own hole.
Nathan Anderson lives in Marietta, Ohio and is an associate professor at Marietta College, where he teaches composition, literature, and creative writing.
Originally appeared in NOR 17