In Memory of Mike: A Personal Reflection
Mike bought beer for all my friends and so I stayed.
We ate Chinese three meals that day, then dosed and tie-dyed until dawn. We streaked, our bodies stained magenta, orange. Mike yelled, “I’m Owsley’s Toucan Sam!” We chased him, laughing, screaming, shrill like Martian birds of prey.
Mike wrote my name in wax, batiked a broken heart. I was eighteen. My record spun. I shrieked the chorus, “There’s no such thing as love.”
The days swooped by, my friends went home, I almost sobered up. Mike said, “The angels’ hearts stop when you walk,” said, “You should spare them. Stand real still beside me, let me free the one that’s tangled in your hair.”
I said, “Let’s get more beer.”
I was his dream girl, drunken, crass, with a mind sharp and glittering as a trash can full of broken bottles.
Mike gave me his favorite yellow-brown stone, that he claimed was a dinosaur turd. Don’t laugh. His eyes filled with tears when I chucked it to the floor. He still bought beer, and never asked for anything. How come it took this long to say that he was beautiful? We could have lived like that for years.
We would have been fine, if he hadn’t bought wine, which made me almost human. “There’s no such thing as love,” I said.
Mike learned to play the drums- not well, but loud- it sounded like the Tin Man having seizures. He wrote a poem called “Eat Me Raw” in spray paint on the hoods of neighbors’ cars. I was impressed. But then that itch began, an itch beneath my skin like herds of roaches. DT’s don’t sleep. I’d crawl out of his window, walk the yellow line beneath the streetlights. I’d spin there, staring at the empty sky, and dare the pre-dawn traffic not to swerve around me.
He stopped buying beer, but I swore that wasn’t why. I couldn’t stand the way Mike looked at me, like all the shit I talked just turned to poetry.
He wouldn’t let me drink at home, so I blacked out, stayed gone for weeks. I glued my hair in thick green dreads. I wanted to be ugly. I was sick when he found me, in puke-stained clothes. He actually tried to kiss me before I turned away. I didn’t speak.
It would have ruined the effect, you see, to say that something in the naked way he watched me humbled me.
Holds me still.
Editor's Note: The author of the poem above is a woman who lived in Norfolk and wrote this piece about a brief and unhealthy relationship she had in the early '90's. Due to the content of the piece, she has asked to remain anonymous. I am happy to report that she has been sober for many years now. debra