I can still feel the scratch and sliver of the old wooden crate against my arms and across my palms. Underneath our mobile home in the darkness, I imagined I was lying in a coffin. Finally, some peace, I thought.
Watching through the slats for any fluctuations of light, the flash of shadow a wing can make when it divides sunlight onto a wall, or the legs of my father passing by in their blue Saucony, I slunk further into my sliver-friendly, death guardian of the underworld at the sound of my name being called for dinner. My wooden friend would conceal me.
But there was my father, crouching in that space between the dark and the light, holding his camera and asking me to flash him my face.
I remember the picture he took of me under there, how the blue bags under my eyes looked like the sagging bodies of two wolf spiders resting under the floor who I imagined could hear everything and allowed their jaws to fall slack onto the cool and quiet sand,
the way mine did when I couldn’t believe the cruelty that I was hearing from my parents, and needed the quiet to bury me good and for as long as it could so that I could sleep. I’m sure you’ve hidden in that space, inside which the ground’s holding us and stretching its hands over our ears,
where, during those times safety made sounds we could hear through a floor or a wall like it was slowly being ripped open, spaghetti sauce to air, from the inside-out by a hateful self-esteem pushing it to the edge of grace, and we intuitively knew it only wanted to torture us similarly in order to make itself feel okay with being off, mistakenly thinking that would make things more balanced, but we also didn’t know the words that could explain that kind of double knowing yet, the only thing on our mind was to free ourselves from danger, the only thing on the dinner plate inside us, to let it fall.