They say we’re primates, but you looked like a bear as you padded through the blue light of my neighbourhood, naked. Through a slat in the blinds, I saw your hairy chest, the jiggling fat over your hulking bones, and the hard strata of muscles on your limbs. The sprinklers were frothing over the grass and onto the sidewalk, but you lumbered through the water and past my house. Your eyes were open, I thought. Then again, maybe not.
Above the box elder, the crows mobbed. Their noise had pulled me out of bed, where I’d been trying to sleep since 2 a.m. Don’t calculate the hours, I would think. Don’t think about how, if you went to sleep right now, you’d have three hours rest before you had to get up again. Don’t think about your dad dying. Don’t think about how old you are or how little you’ve done with your life or how tired you’ll be tomorrow. Don’t think, don’t think. But I did. Finally, the crows erupted like a thunderstorm outside and I gave up. Now here you were, drifting like fog through my suburb, the only clothes on your body a knit cap that in the weird light could have been gray or could have been brown.
The crows didn’t bother you and you didn’t bother the crows as they heaved through the air like tossed balls. At the end of the street, you opened the unlocked door of a 1970s Chevy and climbed in the back seat. I saw the hunching of your body as you shut the door and lay down. As I stared through the slat, waiting for you to show yourself again, I became aware of the light growing around me, and the rustle of my family nearing the end of sleep, like a dripping faucet.
Later, when I came out to go to work, there was no sign of you. The car was empty, the locks pressed down. Where did you go, and when? I know I saw you, a shadow man moving past my vision. The crows were my witness. But now, as the neighbor pulls his garbage can across the street so that the wheels grind against the gravel, the crows are quiet. They have abandoned me, along with the night. There is nothing to do but get on with the day.
© Joy Lanzendorfer
[This piece was selected by Sara Crowley. Read Joy’s interview]