Cockatoo

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O has a tattoo of a cockatoo, looking forlorn. I don’t ask him about it. I touch his wrist, so thin and girlish. With him, I always say wrong things.

That spring wouldn’t last. Our school sat atop a grassy hill full of daffodils. I would count stalks and buds, thinking of O, who sang choir songs. O said a church is akin to a prison.

I go to church in my black silk shirt and my ruby lipstick. A pastor looks, his mouth
stiff. I undo my top four buttons. I sing loudly with abandon. My singing is an accusation. O’s burial was dull.

I think of him and walk as if blind. I think of his tattoo. A cockatoo is too smart for its own good. It picks at its quills, plucks at its body, drawing blood.

A boy at school talks about longing. Longing as a distraction, longing as a ritual. My
longing was an attack on him. I hadn’t known, but know I do. I cry, looking at stars.

His urn sits in a glass box. I stand by it, waiting for a sign.

His sign was Scorpio. Plus: loyal, dynamic. Minus: suspicious, stubborn.

I’m a Capricorn. Waiting for hard work. Waiting for him. I won’t go.

Class in Romanticism starts with Wordsworth. I abhor him. I look out a window. It
might rain. I want to stomp through it in my muddy boots. O was blown away by rain.
Stunning, O said. O and I would watch lightning flash and hit hard ground.

O would mind this lack of discussion. Our classroom is cold and my skull is numb. I
dash out a composition, turn it in for Monday. Adios, I won’t show up again.

Class in Romanticism starts with Wordsworth. I abhor him. I look out a window. It
might rain. I want to stomp through it in my muddy boots. O was blown away by rain.
Stunning, O said. O and I would watch lightning flash and hit hard ground.

O would mind this lack of discussion. Our classroom is cold and my skull is numb. I
dash out a composition, turn it in for Monday. Adios, I won’t show up again.

 

Ivy, O’s mom, calls. His books, Ivy says. I didn’t think Ivy would find out about us. I
could say a word that would ruin Ivy. But I don’t say anything at all.

Ivy’s building is on a winding road with lush oaks. Ivy has a mass of black hair and a
faint frown. I follow Ivy to his old room–blank walls and cold floor. “All yours.” Ivy says. I try lifting a box. My thin arms won’t do it.

What did O hold on to, and how much of it was vital? I think of my coming months,
unpacking and organizing. “Thank you,” I say.

Ivy nods.

 

I call a man for aid. I can’t bring O’s things away on my own.

O’s handwriting is small and girlish. O said: you’ll go on.

But I long for him, his scars from a crash long ago. A split down his right palm, cuts on his lip and his chin.

——

[Editor's Note: This piece is a lipogram, written without the letter "E".]    

The Author

Laura Yan is a freelance and fiction writer living in Brooklyn. She does not have a MFA, but she does sometimes study literature with an elderly eccentric poet in the East Village. Find her on twitter or her often abandoned blog.

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