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|  YEAR OF THE GRASSHOPPER

 
  Nothing much has changed really: same skewered heart,
the same shish kebab. Forty year old me, eight year old me.
The year I learnt to ride a bike, and rode in hawk circles
on the paths of the park. The pattern of shadow
stuck to the wheels
just as fast as I could bike. And also stuck:
the stain of anxieties, a shadow in my chest:
minor league baseball:
the pitcher's mound, the hard dry infield dirt
where I could scrape my knees and shins sliding into second,
the wait as home plate was swept before I came to bat
only to be struck out,
my jock strap yellow with fear pee.
No friends.

Only the visits to the library saved me.
La Bibliotheque St. Michel.
The neglected English section,
the old adventure books, the careful creak open not to break,
and also to release
the dank smell of the past
like composted words.
I forget them all now.
What I remember is that year
I found thousands of grasshoppers
chopped by the big outside fans of the library cooling system.
The Year of the Grasshopper (my name for it),
when the bible stories of locusts blocking out the sun
came to life.
I gathered some of the cut up body parts
and put them into a matchbox - legs, torsos, heads.

I wheeled through and cut
the blue skies from ground level,
tiny bike and body, up and down the paths.
A little rattle in my pocket.
An idea just forming,
to fill an emptiness - I knew
if I ever found her,
whoever she was,
I would give her the gift
of a grasshopper box.


from The Wind is a Tall Man Striding
watershedBooks
2000
Copyright © Jim Slominski