Poets

Even New York City is a Small Town by Ally Malinenko

-for Christian

I have to get out of this city, she says,
threading her new dyed red hair through her fingers.
What is it, I ask
My family, she says, my school, just everything.
It’s like I can’t spend another minute in this city.

Her eyes well up for a second.

I hear the words fall from her mouth,
the way they fell from mine all those years ago,
when I was clawing my way out of my own skin,
sick like a caged animal.

She rolls her eyes and looks around the room.
I watch her.
Where do you want to go, I ask.

Chicago, she says.
Why?
Because they have museums there.
I laugh. I tell her New York has museums

She tilts her head to the side, frustrated
that I could be so stupid,
that I could not understand
that even Brooklyn is tiny
when you have walked these avenues and streets

until you were numb
the way I walked the narrow paths
of my small town.
The way I drove in circles
from the lake to the diner,
back to the lake back to the diner,
never leaving but always moving
wearing a thin worn path

through the meat of me.

I want to tell her
that one day this moment,
this miserable high school life,
will seem so long ago.
It will be a like a dream she had and forgot.
This moment when she was trapped

before she left for Chicago
or Florida
or San Diego
or Toronto

or anywhere that will just let her breathe.

But that’s a lie. She’ll never forget
the way I never forgot how to scream without sound

and remembering
what it is to be trapped
will one day save her.

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2 thoughts on “Even New York City is a Small Town by Ally Malinenko

  1. Pingback: Even New York City is a Small Town at Blue Hour | allymalinenko

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