by Elzabeth Kerper
- My grandfather replaced the grass in his backyard with vegetables and flowers before I was alive. I never asked when he started making things grow, or why—if the desire to coax life up from the dirt under his feet had roots in a Great Depression childhood spent skipping school to fish in the Mississippi, or if he simply woke up one morning and saw that adding beauty to the world was something he could do and then did it—but this autumn my uncles dismantled his garden. Too much to keep up with, my grandfather said, especially with your grandma—well, too much to keep up with. They tore down the chicken wire fencing and invited rabbits in, ripped dying perennials up in brittle handfuls. My aunt took pictures. My grandfather refuse to wear gloves while he unraveled the tomato vines from their stakes.
- Past midnight, drunk people are the only ones who smile back at me.
- I met him in a January snowstorm, west of Union Station at the end of the Jackson bridge. His name was Vincent. He was homeless. When he held his glove between his teeth to shake my hand, the snow that stuck to my mittens melted on his skin. He told me not to make his choices because someone was going to marry me someday, told me that he’d earned most of a college degree in prison, but had been paroled before he got to finish it. Now I tell people like you not to become people like me, he said. Be careful, he said, it happens so fast. I only had two dollars left over from buying lunch on the train and I cried all the way to the El, dragging my suitcase behind me.
Snow bleached the sky and the man with the saxophone on the corner poured all the air in his lungs into one low note.
- When I was little I cried over everything—sad things, cruel things, things that seemed sad and cruel because I didn’t understand them, things that turned sad and cruel because I had begun to understand them—now I hardly ever cry at all.
- Sometimes you talk to me, but only about other people.
- We are all so careless with hearts that aren’t our own.
- My grandfather again—we were in a church basement and the reason for that was sad too, but it doesn’t really matter because nothing could be sadder than the way I didn’t see his tears until they were already on his face, staining the wrinkled skin under his eyes. He told my father that no, my grandmother didn’t have more good days than bad ones, not anymore. He rubbed his cheeks dry with arthritic palms, twisted his crooked fingers like it didn’t hurt.
- One way or another, love always leaves you crying.
Elizabeth Kerper can be found at http://i-contain-multitudes.tumblr.com .
These words and more can be found inside the first issue of No Assholes Literary Magazine.
WE ARE NOW ACCEPTING POETRY, PROSE, AND CREATIVE NON-FICTION SUBMISSIONS FOR OUR SECOND ISSUE. Visit our Tumblr or Facebook page, or email NALiteraryMagazine@gmail.com, for more information.