The loss of tranquil

I am standing in my front yard in South Minneapolis late on a clear summer night with a lungful of American Spirit
When a car passes by on a road empty of traffic and slams itself into a parked car half a block up the street
“I crashed momma’s car. I crashed momma’s car!” she bawls into a cell phone so loudly I can hear her before the door opens
She says it over and over “What am I going to do? I crashed momma’s car!”
And every time she says this I hear the man on the other end of the phone say coldly “You fucked up. You fucked up, bad.”
As I’m walking up I ask “Are you okay?”
I see her walk around the other side of the vehicle and pull a little girl from the passenger seat
The little girl is completely silent
“Is she okay!? Is she okay!?” I yell faster, my feet move faster, until I am face to face with a completely silent child in her mother’s arms
The girl does not smile, she does not cry,
Her face is the envy of any poker player
The chaos around her lacks enough to even make her flinch
As her mother screams into the phone, as the car smokes, the horn blares, and the porch lights come on, as I speak to her, her eyes are two large, brown, calm, pools
What must this child see every day to remain so calm, I think to myself
I was a calm child too
I calmly watched glass shatter when my father tried to jump the company Ford Taurus behind Dakota Middle School
I calmly watched hearts, then minds, and then mouths form the most hateful words they could conceive of every time my parents came face to face
I bled calmly; I bloodied my knuckles calmly,
I was calm when my mother screamed at me to dress better before I made my way to school so Social Security didn’t take me away
I was calm when she told me I reminded her of my father
I was calm when I considered which of the three of us that made me hate more
I walked home, and calmly drank that night, calmly contemplated the reflection of those brown eyes
I calmly emptied bottles of pale ale down my throat until sleep came
And tried not to think of the word tranquil

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One thought on “The loss of tranquil

  1. Bill – I think this a great example of how using words sparingly can pack a major punch. You took the barest details: the sound of the horn, the blankness of the child’s gaze, and you made each line count until you had drawn the experience, line by line, into a visceral wall that makes the reader stop and wonder if they would have stopped and seen the emptiness that you saw, and if not, feel blessed to see it through your eyes and determined to watch more closely to the world/people around them. I only hope I can live up to your example! Love ya, Bill!

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