asphalt

by mickharris

When I was little I would wait for all the other kids to go off and play foursquare or run screaming around the field to the pull-up bars near the chain-link fence

And I would sit first, then flatten myself onto the asphalt

Or the tanbark

Or the razor grass

And close my eyes in the sun

The asphalt was the best because you could bake in the sun, convection-style

Burn on top and on the bottom

And feel the individual pebbles melted together between your fingers

 

And when it was really sticky man that was the best

You’d sink in, burrow a little

Imagine it was your home, your hole, it would just swallow you up and you would live below

I could go anywhere, swimming through the dirt and silt down to the magma

I’d grow a shell, I’d forget the sun

My legs would lengthen

My eyes would dim

And I would stop among the worms curling away in alarm and wait for the tremendous sound of my heart to stop, cool, push blood without the delicate human ththump, ththump

 

I spread my skirt out in the sun to soak up the rays that I can carry back to the classroom with me to remind me of the home that I can’t have

 

When I was a teenager I would wait until all the cars stopped coming and the sun went down and on good nights for the stars to peek through the cloud cover

And I would sit, then lie carefully on the asphalt

Not as manicured as the playground, older and crumbling and light gray

To feel the trapped sun there seep into my bones

I would lay in the middle of the street and thrill every time my ears caught what sounded like a car coming in the distance

I would watch the stars but never for very long

Too afraid that someone would come, headlights cutting through my little patch of darkness

And squash me before I could wiggle a finger out of the way

 

Now I stop sometimes and place my palms on the cement outside of my office

Or in the parking lot of the grocery store

I try to remind it of me

Jog its memory so that it will open

Swallow me up

Let me swim free and clicking swishing pumping

Out of my girl skin.

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