The inside of the ice-cream truck is a hot dark closet with syrup air that gags. We are rumbling around a New Jersey cul-de-sac and no one can catch us. My six-year-old fingers are soft worms straining to hold onto the slippery silver rod above. The floor shakes, but my bare legs do a clumsy dance to stay standing. The man in the white uniform driving looks back at me and smiles. I wonder if my big sisters can see me. The ledge of the slide-open window is too high to peek over. The tinkling bells and cries of the neighborhood children outside, the radio voices of Diana Ross and The Supremes inside cannot drown out the sound of my blood pounding: This is the bravest thing I have ever done. …baby love, my baby love / Been missing ya, miss kissing ya.
We stop so hard I must grab the bar with both hands. I bump up against the freezer with sticky red popsicles, ice-cream sandwiches, and fudge bars. I cannot wait to see the faces of the others clutching quarters in their hands, when I pop out of this ice-cream limousine. They have never been inside, like me. I will spring out in surprise.
But the only face I see is my father’s.
What is he doing here? He is never here when we buy ice-cream. He is away “on business” when we buy ice-cream, when we ride bikes, when we go to Brownies, when we have back-to-school nights. When we wake up because our mother is crying, smoking and drinking from the jug of red wine on the kitchen table. My father’s eyes scare me; he looks like a killer. I am afraid he is going to hit me. But he lunges past, at something white behind me.
A. Cabrera’s poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction essays have appeared in The New Guard, Brain Child Magazine, Colere, Acentos Review, Ravensperch, Best Travelers’ Tales 2021 Anthology, Deronda, and other journals. Their work has also been nominated for a Pushcart Award and adapted for stage by the Bay Area Word for Word Theater Company.
Would love to bake chocolate chip cookies again with you. Do not
care if we ate all the dough and had no cookies to eat. Miss you.
Come as you are. Do not care if there’s bones, skin, or nothing. As long
as it’s you. I will know you by your laugh or simply your touch. Miss
you. We never did get to run that half marathon together.
Was run in your honor. A full too. When you come please bring that
cheesy pepperoni bread. Soooo delicious. Have not been
able to duplicate it. The cheese melts into the dough and it’s terrible
re-heated. Think it’s the wrong kind of dough. You would know.
Miss you. Heartbreaking life experiences shatter. I’m sorry.
I am sorry I failed you. Would love to hug you. Hard. Kiss your check.
Your forehead. Hug you again. To many unsaid goodbyes. I know
you said goodbye before you left forever. Knew it. Felt it.
Here. Inside. Look for you in my dreams … into that wide darkness … can’t
find you. Will forever Miss You. Riding brought you so much joy … exuberance.
You wanted to go faster and faster … as fast as the horse’s hooves would
run … which now pound my heart … my head. It’s almost spring.
Daffodils sprouting and covered in snow. You loved their yellow happiness.
I remember you telling me how pissed you were with your mom for making
you pick the ones in the field. Planting time. Dogs running through the
garden … playfully trampling all your plants. We are all dog hoarders now. Miss you.
The sea is calling. We can walk on the beach. Looking for sand dollars, shells,
and starfish. Let me know where to meet. We’ll both show up. Bring that
blue jean hat we all loved. The one where your white blond uncontrollable curls
tumble out. We have so much to catch up on. I want to hear all about
Heaven … how you’re doing. I’ll bring the cheesy pepperoni bread and flowers.
Daffodils or Sunflowers? The new dog will be on a leash. You’ll love him.
He’s a foodie too. Any time. Any place. Or just the dining room table.
That’s fine too. Just come.
MD Bier is a binge reader and you’ll always find a book with her. Her writing reflects her passion for social change and social issues. Being part of the Project Write Now Community is where she writes and studies poetry. She has been published in the Write Launch, Humans of the World, New Brunswick Poetry Anthology, and the New Brunswick Windows on the World. MD Bier lives in NJ with her family and dog.
Is it possible your turtleness has something to sing?
Bought with a boy’s allowance, you’ve learned
a new word: plunder, a contribution
to mid-grade reptilian literature.
Is it possible a diva like you
is drawn to a spot of light? You were there
that day with the boy in his room. You seem
desperate to speak. Perhaps some ember of his
infiltrated your shell. He couldn’t sing
either. His head was your Goodyear blimp.
Now, all the lonely hours you’ve shredded.
What were you thinking as he hung there?
The world has many competent turtle people,
but I’m not one of them. I’m sorry.
I tried to give you away but you’re
one of the most invasion species here.
All the turtle literature warned against
plopping red-eared sliders into random habitats.
And now you have mental health issues. You
seem urgent. O Tina, tell me you miss
that boy, that body you watched grow up,
appearing and disappearing like a
companionship of wind, suddenly still,
then gone. Still. Gone.
Brian Builta lives in Arlington, Texas, and works at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth. He has recently published poems in Jabberwock Review, Juke Joint Magazine, and South Florida Poetry Journal, with poems forthcoming in New Ohio Review and TriQuarterly.