Shamrock Shake

18 Mar

Earlier this week, there was a discussion at Writer’s Community about what separates poetry from flash fiction. It got me thinking about what genre most of my writing falls into, and for most pieces, I really don’t know. What about you, readers? What do you think defines a piece as poetry rather than a flash and vice versa?

In light of the recent holiday, I wrote a flash that takes place on St. Patrick’s Day. I think I’m going to start writing a collection of flashes that are loosely based on holidays. I’ll let you know if that thought progresses. Anyway, here’s my story. HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Tonight, I’m belly up to a bar, green beer in hand, yesterday’s ketchup stain on my jeans. Leftover Mardi Gras beads that I didn’t earn hang from my neck. I start thinking, If I pee in the river will it turn blue?, so I know it’s time to leave. But this city is too crowded to call anywhere home. People shoved in houses, work, love, so close that when one sparks, they all go up in flames.

Last night, my boyfriend said he loved me, and I forgot to say it back. We were on my building’s rooftop, our eyes wading through city lights and trash cans, looking for something honest. In the split second after he said those words, in my mind I said them back. I smacked my mouth onto his and closed the gap bewteen us, our hipbones fusing together, fingers intertwined into a cat’s cradle, a Jacob’s ladder. He said, Mama, you’re better than any oatmeal creme pie or chocochoco chip cookie I have ever eaten. His words made my rooftop curl around us. It held our bodies like a four-year-old holds a cat; there was no room to breathe. So we grabbed each other’s hands and jumped from my rooftop to the next, then the next. We were chimmney sweeps, we were pigeons, we were cat burglars. We were nothing but characters inside my brain, trying to find truth in something dirty. We were still just two babies standing on my rooftop, looking for honesty in a city because we couldn’t find it in the space between ourselves.

Tonight, I’m going to weave a basket out of my hair and the stool I’m sitting on. I’m going to fold my body into its belly, drop myself into the river, and float upstream. Maybe I will catch on a drainage pipe and some lucky person will find me, accept me as their own, forever. Or maybe I’ll just keep floating, kelly green waters turning into the blue tides of Lake Michigan, my basket tossing back and forth, my body naked, my cheek resting in a pool of water, alone but protected from the storm.

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