People We Saved
A turquoise metal lawn chair sits beneath the matte ink awning of stars. The stars being the wilderness overhead, vowels drooling together, spooled spittle. She unbuttons the pearl white picket fence posts of her blouse and what flutters from the fingers is silk. A vague memory of waves in Honolulu. A French word under which the car idles enough to set forth steam.
A button, a fence post, a faraway hammock— each image the title in a book we wove around alibis. A book held together by a spine. Binding. The white teeth nestled inside an overturned canoe smile develop as sepia. That smile and the liquid swilled. The abandoned cartwheels of accordion music. Anything in sepia is an object which can be stolen. A landscape to which we retrace tickets long after the footprints wash away.
There were people we saved from the floods in Haiti. And there were people we lost long the way. Not every life is precious as fresh-peeled clementines. We saved every life we could reach. Toes bled over the borders of flip-flops, soles grew hard from walking barefoot.
She touched the expired faces with the same whimper that crept out from a kiss. The whispers stiffened into whimpers. Things we exhaled while sleeping. Fingertitps trembled. What had we packed? We had Bibles but no nylon ropes. Eternal life but no formaldehyde to embalm the odor of dead bodies. We don’t know if we saved those who died.
A wheelbarrow in the street. We were perfect for each other if all we needed fit inside our separate backpacks. A silver anklet, birds with yellow beaks, buttons and buttons and buttons and the people we saved on the beach. I saved the self she wanted to see surfing while the people saved native fruit seeds and belief. All our saving funded by donors on distant islands, other places with plans packed tight into storage units, somewhere we called home. Everywhere, the same voracious stars beating wild overhead.
[Inspired by “Light Enough to Travel” by the Be-Good Tanyas]
About the Author:
Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and raised in Alabama where she resides with her partner and three small native species. Her fiction is forthcoming in PoemMemoirStory, Rivet, Sandy River Review, Reservoir, and The Zodiac Review, among others. Her poetry chapbook, objects in vases, will be published by Anchor & Plume in March 2016. More online here.