’80

Written by Gregg Shapiro

The jaundiced, banana peel, Hepatitis C skin tone
and the echoes of the man across the hall calling,
calling, calling Irene, fade like the connect-the-dots
intravenous poked canvas of my arms, into a past
memory as vague as unwelcome hunger, less than a
week after a nine-day hospital stay. Even with
the extra pounds I still skirt stick figure territory, but
I know better than to boast about it. I invent an alphabet
and make a list of reasons for living. Loose ends tied

up like uncooperative shoelaces, always threatening
to unravel. Goodbye and goodbye and goodbye to all
that. To hemophilia tests and curfews and leaky gas
tanks and barely concealed disgust. Who could blame
me as I barely find the strength to lift a hand to wave
to family, immediate and distant, a constantly shifting
circle of friends, dissolving into shadows and outlines?
The prospect of a significant landscape a thousand miles
to the east. An ocean, not a lake. Rebirth in a city as old

as the country, in a neighborhood made famous in a Prince
Spaghetti commercial. Setting up house with a lover who
brings his own king-sized bed, pots and pans, plants and
well-stocked bookshelves, difficult cat and cluttered past.
It’s here that I plan to reinvent myself in and out of classrooms,
absorbing history while taking every opportunity to make
my own. Looking out any window, horizons are blank
pages waiting for the right words to do them justice.
The future’s so bright, I have to shield my eyes.