17 Bellis Circle

Laurie Saurborn Young

Twenty-two, I wear six pale blue stones on one finger. Twenty-two, I drive breaking women to the psych ward in my dirty white Corolla. Their clothes I carry to the trunk in plastic bags. How little I know, a southern girl working mental health outside Boston, an hour from Cambridge where red-winged blackbirds dart over my head as I run early-morning hills in the park. My boyfriend still asleep, his cat waiting patiently behind the bedroom door to spring and bite my feet. How I hate the couple living above us. How a man who knows everything tastes like cement. In Medford, Nor’easter clouds fan out in the sky. In Cambridge, our landlord drinks coffee on the porch, walks his daughter to the Quaker school, asks me to breakfast again. When I try and rearrange my face or the facts of looking up into a sky, nothing is reflected but the rain puddles on the paved path. Twenty-two, I learn how girlhood makes a place in the brain that the brain carries as the body moves on. Our couples’ counselor mimes for my boyfriend: This is what it looks like, saying I don’t know. I help hospital-drugged Cassandra into my car. Forty-five & she will never forget her father. I count her pills into plastic cases as she tells me of things I can’t see. Spiders. Clapping monkeys. How often broken is just broken and remains so. Our neighbor’s grill, left again in the drive. The old widower, dozing in his car. Come here, I call to the birds as they flicker and disappear in the marsh reeds. My boyfriend works all night and sleeps well into the day. I wait for weeks but he never wakes my way, over and over the pale northern sunrise turning the sky to wheat. Waiting for wings there are only a handful of things I can do. I move the six rings to my other hand. Leaving through the side door, I go for another run. Twenty-two, I pick Cassandra up at noon & help her walk her dog. His daughter on the tire swing out back, our landlord asks me over for a drink. But I never take my eyes off those red wings blinking over the reeds as the girl swings higher and higher into the emerald trees.

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