by Joseph Cambonga

Editor's note: 'Aurora' was the third piece published in our Push Pop series in June 2016. The series also includes 'Field Day' by Helen Healey and 'Last Hoorah' by Sabrina Sanchez.

Jets zoom by while I mow dry grass. Wishing to cut clouds than wrangle weeds, but then I’d never come down to my knees.  Or play Frisbee, curving my brother’s apathy. No aim when throwing the disk, but at least he shoots over the fence. Our neighbor shakes his fist, when he sees me hop on his redwood terrace. Land on shrub and shrug, and try again with better luck.

Never spent summer in NYC, since worry from the family summons me back to the 303. This house hesitant to call home, a place hard-heads are grown, and the world hears them groan. Mesh patches on the walls, frozen pizzas in the fridge, peppermint schnapps under the cabinets; little sibling stuck on the screen while parents scream, as I watch my twenty-one candles vanish.

Take out the trash amid our celebration, get a text ‘what’s up?’ for this special occasion. Mom off away with her van, Dad slumped asleep on the coach, Brother restarts his video game; so I respond, ‘nothing much, just the same.’ Hop in the homie’s hooptie, blast some Weezy, and park by the park to drink a 40. Reviews of our golden days fade from news of another pregnancy.

Nobody else I am going to spend my birthday with, other than those who have always made my neck stiff. Thoughts that this time around will be different, yet it’s just a new twist on old habits. This is why I took up prayer, and how I forgot to dream—no notes to sing, only dusty strings. Still, my heart plays a beat, when these demons under my bed tickle at my feet.

Glad to be here though, to repolish my tin soul. Crafting a new piece of mind as this year’s mess resurface; reconfiguring my spirit to be little less selfish. Sharing tall tales with the brother to give him a warning, giving gifts to mom from my pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and doing chores for dad to show my support. As long as I see stars, among the familiar sights and sounds, then all isn’t lost . . . and moving on takes going back to where you left off. 

Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.