The Absent

The ground was covered in crushed
oranges that people walking by just sort of
stepped on like they weren’t even there.
The acid coated blades of grass like dew,
but with something sweeter in the mix
made everything feel different than before.

The trees were like these perfect things
making even the most flawed among them seem
like it knew more about the world than any one of us.
Loose cannon posters put up in public places
question the people protected
by their ripped off architecture even now.
I picked one of the oranges.

Walking on I found her sitting on a brick wall
in between somebody’s yard and all the tiles
of the sidewalk. She had a rusted pocket knife
in her hand and was using it to sketch into
the concrete brick that was right beside her
waiting to be seen.

We were the only two that didn’t go to class that day,
banking on finding something better on our own,
and our good fortune to get by without having to try.
It was lucky she was like that too,
taking her time out here with something sharp she shouldn’t have,
but did anyway because their rules were just incapable
of making her afraid. I asked if I could see the blade,
and after looking at me for a moment she handed it over.

I cut the partially peeled orange in half and split it with her,
and while we ate we never said where we were going.
The cricket songs and night brought in the cold
and in this absence I had found more
than I ever could have just by being told.

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