by t. zoEy benally
I’m lucky that I remember the time before we were friends.
You’re lucky that I remember the day that we became friends.
Lucky how I remember how my life was before I became
accustomed to the free speech, raucous ideas & irreverent debate
we have entertained these past years.
Although I am different from that person then,
I can still remember how it was not to have you as a friend.
It is that memory that will pull us both through these tough times.
It is that memory that will allow me to respect
your need to slide back into talons,
retreat behind prison bars painted grey peeling latex,
and continue to lick your wounds coating the raw,
tattered edges with saliva devoid of growth hormone.
The moment we became friends, the sun
yawned and stretched in the west, dragging cherry,
strawberry and orange flavored sunset sheets
and eventually the dark quilts of night, draped from strong shoulders.
The air was grey and cool, broken only
by gold day remnants and jaundiced halogen car beams.
I was having trust issues with 7% DEET,
worried that a virus infested mosquito
would penetrate the defenses and I would lose time
suspended in the deep fog of WNV, WEE, SLE, or some other -itis.
You, accosted by an over zealous prose writer, asked if I needed a ride,
but I was in dire need of three thousand more steps before midnight.
So I braved the night, braved mosquito central,
aka, the bridge over San Juan River waters, and eventually made it home.
I barely knew your name, and I had no clue what your phone number was,
so I couldn’t call you to let you know of my success.
I remember my thoughts the day before we became friends.
I remember walking home and the heat
burning the tops of my arms at the elbows. I remember
running plan a, plan b, plan c, on how to make small adjustments
to the Navajo Nation, and maybe bring our people towards self-sufficiency.
I remember not knowing your name. I remember turning my music up
so that I could ignore passerby comments, car bleats and honks.
One of those was you, you later told me—slightly annoyed
—after I crossed the road just past the intersection,
after I crossed the road for some coffee.
“I was yelling at you. Didn’t you hear me?”
It’s lucky how I remember the time before we were friends.
It’s lucky that I remember because I can now
fold time rivers that we had into oxbows and continue with the flow.
I can insert shunts across clogged artery portions
so that the blood continues to flow and it doesn’t kill me.
I smear briney floods all over my cheeks
and am surprised that white sediment does not dry and crust,
but we are lucky that I remember the moment that we became friends.
We are lucky that I remember, lucky that I can fold
excess time fabric back over those two years and sew
back and forth, back and forth, until those moments
are imprisoned by miles of thread.
We are lucky that I can take care of it alone;
lucky that we won’t have to wait for you
to decide to finally tell me what you’ve been telling everyone else,
for you to finally get up the nerve and tell me the truth
—that our friendship is over.