Poetry

Eight or Nine Things I Know about Him – A Prose Poem by Mandy Berry

Inspired by “7 or 8 Things I Know about Her” by Michael Ondaatje

His Mother’s Drawings

When his mother died last year, they found at least three hundred drawings of different band members in her dresser drawers. Most of the drawings were of the members of Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance.

“Wow,” he said to his younger brother. “She was a really good artist, don’t you think?”

“Uh-huh. So that’s why she named us Patrick and Mike – after Patrick Stump and Mikey Way,” his brother replied.

He rolled his eyes. “Just be glad your name isn’t Gerard.”

The Home Library

A woman who lived on the ground floor of his apartment building had more books than she could ever read, so she would let the families in the building come in and borrow some of them on the weekends. He went down there every Saturday, from noon to three, and always picked at least two books about space.

The Street Performers

He was in fourth grade, and his class was on a field trip in Harlem. He didn’t remember a word of what his teacher said about Langston Hughes, but he did remember the four older kids on the street corner, and the dark green Polo shirts that they were wearing. The lone boy played a guitar, and the girls harmonized “Bohemian Rhapsody” better than the members of Queen.

First Criticism

He was playing with some hats in a room next to the therapist’s office. He was pretending that the hats were sentient planets, and that they were talking to each other. He didn’t hear the therapist say, “Your son definitely has Asperger’s.”

The Moving Truck

It smelled like old carpet and puke, according to both him and his brother. He begged his parents to let him sit in the U-Haul with the furniture at every rest stop. They refused each time.

Listening In

“I’m from New York. Just because I’m white and I get straight A’s and I’m quiet doesn’t mean that I won’t whoop your punk ass behind the school.” Spoken to the wrestling captain at lunch, fourth period.

Confession

“I would probably be a stoner if I knew where to find decent marijuana. I’m not going to even get close to that fake K2 stuff.”

His Fantasy

“Do you ever wish that you could just run away and go to a place that’s completely hidden and nobody will ever find you?”

“Yeah, Pat. I do sometimes.”

“I wish that all the time. I don’t want people to look at me like I’m insane anymore.”

The Birthday Present

Our school year ended yesterday, and he turned sixteen today. I picked him up around sunset and drove to a wooded path that’s right in the middle of the city, in a small valley created by a small stream. It runs under a few streets, so not many people know that it even exists – that’s why I love it. And from the way he’s smiling and looking up at the stars right now, I’d say he loves it, too.

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