Abandoned

by A.M. Broadous
September 2021

Salt Lake City authorities call it
trespassing. I call it paying my respects.
I usher myself through cold, revolving
metal in the shortest line of my life. Teens
and young adults know it’s easy when
no one’s looking.
I am no longer the former,
no longer the 15-year-old boy whose
adolescent body sang with manly
sweat and Coppertone, whose corkscrew
afro nodded among naked shoulders
funneling through to the other side.
The other side is now gouged
AstroTurf and graffiti.
Where are the cops?
Spray paint answers unanimously—
Fuck the police.

Where am I?

I am standing where I once
swam. A tidal-wave pool of dirt
and a lone metal chair.
A vast tub drained of beach music and
children’s laughter and the girl who
almost loved me. That girl is now a woman,
has a ring to mark the territory,
and from the diamond sprang a baby girl
who’d never know my face.

Where am I?

I am staggering up rickety wooden
stairs to meet the angels. In their
place are dehydrated snakes of blue and
green and pink uncoiling down,
down to drink from the same empty
water bowl.

Where am I?

I am reaching for the rope swing
no one swings my way. It
could have lost its frayed grip on the world,
or my friend forgot to throw
me a line from a cozy
apartment in Canada.

Where am I?

I am on the crumbling
cement bank of a river, a river once
busy with yellow donut-shaped
inner tubes. Now it is truly lazy, a
tattooed ditch chasing itself with
brown silt and ghosts of chlorophyll.

Where am I?

I am too far from the island of yesterday,
a buoy in no man’s land where
everything snapped and
collapsed like dinosaur bones
before I knew what hit me. What
remains is a hollow breath like a faint,
dry wind blowing just enough
to shake this pine tree’s head and make it
shudder and cry for us both as if to say,
I know. I see. I remember.