slingshot

I have a slingshot I bought from a man downtown for five dollars. That day, I spent my dinner money on the toy and my bus fare for the next morning on a flower. I was never very good with money.

It was a beautiful flower that died within days, sitting in a glass spaghetti sauce jar, sucking up water until the weight of its head was too heavy for the shrinking stem to carry. Eventually, she leaned completely toward the ground and wound up buried in the garbage can.

I planned to make drawings with the slingshot. And I guess that was my justification for buying it, instead of eating. It seemed more valuable to make a thousand violent drawings, shot at from ten yards away, than to eat another meal of beans and scrambled eggs. And to be honest, I liked the idea of having a slingshot in my bag. Makes me feel ready for anything, like a child playing in a city of tall trees, barefoot, running across a cemetery of dead leaves, quilts of dry sticks woven in and out of each other. I can make believe that the buildings become cliff sides and all the clusters of cars are just stones, carried away by the rivers, the machine-electric humming just the glowing sound of far away waterfalls–all of it blending into a fabric of silent noise.

I can be that child secretly, her weapon packed away in a canvas bag among gum, pencils, a book, and expired rail tickets. She can be alive, thrashing and sliding between the letters scribbled incoherently, swimming through a sea of pennies that will never be used or thrown away. She doesn’t have to wear shoes or make sure she said the right thing. Her hair can be knotted into a three day old ponytail, her shins dusted with grey playing-outside-dirt, feet black as asphalt. She can ask as many questions as she’d like and the notebooks will never accuse her of being too inquisitive. She can break windows and make up songs that won’t ever make any sense. She can refuse to be drawn into the tide of our illusions, always prepared with a costume to escape. And like a stone into glass through the legs of a slingshot, she can always fracture – with grace and love – the walls of this fragile composition.

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