What I Did On My Summer Vacation

I rose before the sun. I hugged momma and poppa and cried. I wondered where I was going. I passed into mountains. I sat to tea among empty chairs and watched the trucks roll by. I wished I was a truck driver. I stopped at the edge of the valley, looked over, and forgot to take pictures. I wished I was a photographer. I found the small roads. I drove past gas stations with one pump. At red lights, I looked through the trees at houses with white-washed gables. I wished that I lived in them. I wrinkled my nose and watched as grass fires ran past. I wondered when I would see my friends again. I remembered an old friend who had moved before me and swerved off the main road to meet her. She lived in Detroit with a man whose company she disliked, so we met in her car. Once she had seemed so grown up. Now her car seemed to be her crib and I wanted to get out and I wanted to stay but my aunt was waiting in Chicago. Besides it just ain’t like it was cause we just ain’t like we were like when my aunt used to tickle me till the laughing hurt and I cried. Now her fingers are busy with Lucky Strikes and crosswords and the garden by the back fence where she grows bonsai in her trench-coat and sunglasses while above the trains go by every ten minutes like thunder rumbling through the old gray house where grandma died and grandpa died before I could remember to remember. I followed my aunt to a lake in Wisconsin where we found a boat with three white sails, a ready captain and ready mates. Since it was summer she put on her sunglasses and trench-coat. At night I slept in the hold and used a hand-held flashlight to see the pictures I drew and read the letters I wrote on lined yellow pages. I pressed my nose against the plastic window to watch the storms that leaked onto my bed and kept me awake. I wished my home was a houseboat. I followed my uncle to his house in Minneapolis. I lived in his attic and dreamed about the lover I left behind. Together in the den my uncle and I watched educational television. Together in the kitchen we crushed gimlets. Together we lost each other in a bar. Together we coveted women with yellow hair and empty eyes. I secretly made love to a Navajo, while secretly he bedded a Viking. I painted pictures and gave his Viking lover one and another to him. My Navajo lover gave me a charm. I took long walks in the wood. I wished I lived in a wood. Winter came. My winter lover found me. I wrote a poem for her, and she played her piano for me. But summer was gone and I knew it was time to leave.

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