Nahshon Cook

A Dove Yesterday morning, while walking my dog in the big field across the street from our home, I saw a Peaceful Dove laid out on its back with spread wings and feet curled-up to its belly, looking as though its body had frozen, mid-flight, and fallen from the sky. Last night, before sleep, I laid in bed imagining walking through the garden section of the hardware store and happening upon a small plastic blue pot holding a beautiful flower whose leafless green stem was wigged in a bouquet of white whorled florets with golden teabowl hearts. Then came the memory of the day my Great Grandma Della died; and how the mortician and his assistant gently lifted her little body from the hospital bed and placed it inside a black body bag that they carefully zipped from foot-to-collarbone; --we’d requested they not cover her face. The two men then slowly rolled her out to a black minivan on a wobbly stretcher. Penpals: 12 Last night, I told Lenny about the stable boy I knew in Thailand who was fired from his job with the horses and sent to live with his uncle in a worker’s camp of skyscraper builders in Bangkok for trying to protect his older sister from a glue-sniffing groom with red teeth; and how the boy was the second of four children, none of whom had ever had a birthday party because their parents, Nam and Jo, couldn't remember when any of them were born. There’s a Khmer proverb that says: The rice field is their university. The hoe, their pen. It reminds of the day I asked the reason Nam and Jo’s kids weren't in school, and was told that if we didn't keep the servants dumb, they’d kill us. When the evening with Lenny ended, I went home, got in bed and--since I don’t know how I’m feeling until I ask myself to find words--wrote in my journal. Then sleep came, and with it, the high school memory of how I used to wonder whether suicide would be more beneficial than growing into a future I’m afraid of and calling it life. --- This morning, I was on my yoga mat--in lotus pose, following the breath--when I heard my heart say: you know you don’t have to fold your legs into a figure-eight to find peace, it’s not that difficult. You just have to stop affording yourself the luxury of making contemporary decisions with historical pain. You’re gonna twist your body into a pretzel and someone’s gonna have to come and shake you loose. This Evening 1) We’d met at Café Max, on Colfax between Columbine and Josephine--right across the street from Sun Mart. He was wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt with a picture of a squirrel holding a martini with an acorn where an olive should be. When I saw him walk in I smiled and invited him to join me. We ordered a loose-leaf blend that smelled like camp fire. During the course of our conversation, he shared how, just this afternoon, in his art therapy group, he asked the kids to each create an abstract representation of their time in the hospital so far. And how one girl drew a picture of a hunter and a person and a deer on a piece of black construction paper. She explains: The hunter is drugs, and alcohol, and suicide. The deer is me. The little pink person is all the people trying to save the deer--staff, my parents. And the little pink person saves the deer from the hunter and the hunter goes away. And the deer grows and goes on to become strong. 2) Two hours later, he was sprawled out on my bed like a cross street. The feeling of his dick in my mouth reminded me of peeled Rambutan fruit. His phone rang. He opened his eyes, answered, then hung up and said it was his brother and that they were waiting for him to get home so that they could cut the birthday cake. He sighed then asked if we should hurry-up and come. No, I said, No need to rush. We kissed, got dressed, kissed again, then I walked him downstairs and saw him out. I spent the rest of the evening at my desk trying to construct a poem around the image in my mind of an old woman sitting in a rocking chair. Her hands are resting on her belly, just above the neatly folded bend of a beautifully stitched appliqué quilt. The quilt has a blue and white floral print sky behind a little light-weight, virgin-white cotton country house with a brown roof and matching shutters edging four window panes hemmed on with strands of indigo floss silk. Nahshon Cook's work has been published widely. His second collection will be published in 2015 by Shabda Press.