Mother, the bells in town
tolled midnight. I woke up.
I washed my hands in cold water, packed a bag
I could carry over my shoulder, and left.
With my new polished boots and my father’s pistol wrapped
in my pants, I
snuck out the bedroom window and ran down the road, saying goodbye to
mailboxes. To the snakebites and bee
stings. To the stinging nettle growing in
the palms of my childhood.
Mother, I hope you find this letter. On
my dresser I left you my books, my
baseball cards, my silver dollar coin, my lucky rabbit’s foot. I have made my bed, my teeth are brushed, my
hair combed to the side. I hope you
don’t worry. I hope you don’t send out the dogs in the
morning when you find
I’m not here.
Mother, it is cold and dark as a dead flashlight and a
light rain is beginning to fall. The
moon is moving through the woods like liquid.
I must go now. I must go and rub
my feet in the ashes of the old fire pit down by the river and sing a
then move further east into the mountains. If
I don’t go now no one will ever remember
the trees I was too afraid to climb.
Mother, there is a place Father told me about, somewhere
in the redwood canyons, where he lived many years ago. He
told me it was a quiet place, a good place
for getting away from mosquitoes. A good
place to find blackberries in summer.
Where the lupine blooms first in May.
Where the creeks are still running in August.
Mother, I am tired.
The stars are growing weary and lonesome. I
must go lay down in the moonlight. I must
gather up the moss growing on old
stones, the gristle of a chicken bone, and make a bed for myself in the
river. I feel the night conglomerating
like dust on my tongue. Does the world
not know what stillness is? I think
there must be many dead things swimming in silence beneath our feet. At night, I feel their fins grazing my
thighs. I know this is it, Mother. I am not coming home this time.
I have cast off my name like a fishing line
broken and sinking in swift currents.
But I promise you, when I cross over the split in the
barbed-wire, I will say a silent prayer to the approaching thunderstorm. Then a prayer to my family.
Then one to the spirits of the fish I had
eaten the night before. Wherever you
are, I hope you don’t forget me. I
you remember the asters growing in the down of sunlight.
I hope you remember the dust on my eyelids.
Reid Maruyama was born and raised in Santa
Cruz, California. He currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.