Surrealist’s Summer

by Alexandra Smithie, age 15
Surrealist’s Summer

“Shaking off the flower crown you made when life was new / and alien. / I’m fighting to win your time. / For now you’re so sweet but / When will you be sour?”

Shaking off the flower crown you made when life was new

and alien.

I’m fighting to win your time.

For now you’re so sweet but

When will you be sour?

I’m aching for nostalgia

So I down a bottle of pepto-bismol

The monk shoos me from the cloister.

I look up how to be quirky on WikiHow. 

At the boardwalk

I bored my third cousin with descriptions

Of when the beach was still relatively wild.

He tilts his head and says “so silly”

We’ll stay a while to watch the sunset.

Justin and I are matching in baby blue

(my skirt, his shirt)

He’s left his things in my apartment. 

Do you hear that ringing too?

No?

I’m so sure it’s not in my head.

Is there a church nearby? I look on my paper map.

The man shakes his head.

Sorry, no Calvinists allowed.

I see a list:

Flowers

Fresh Bread

Televised Junkies

I wonder which does not belong.

The tourist in front of me is wearing my same shoes.

I follow her around the block, as excited as a three-year-old discovering finger paints.

I would take a picture but I left my phone at Claudia’s apartment

She’s probably been calling it to let me know.

Her summer specialty is fruit salad with kiwi and lime.

In Prospect Park the sky turned purple like a bruise. 

I run into a boy and he says shall we dance?

I laugh and put down my mountain dew. We waltz. 

He asks me who I am and what I’m doing later this week — I say I’m going to Cleveland and my name is Mary Sue (positively untrue)

Someone left carnations on the front step of a walkup.

I get an itch to board the New Jersey-bound-train but instead

Take several transfers to the B line, then take seven stops to figure out all the ads.

I look at every passerby hoping and dreading that it’s you. 

“Hey, can I take your picture?” I glance up. 

“Sorry, I didn’t know you were talking to me.” 

His camera snaps “perfect, honey” and I wonder how it came out, 

and if everything is this simple.

The lady behind me in line orders an açaí bowl with shrimp. 

I duck into a side street to tell my friend to hurry, 

my açaí bowl is melting. 

Till she comes I hide behind my newspaper. 

I think about the people dreaming about living in the city.

Look! A duck on the platform.

I keep trying to help him find the exit 

but he seems content — I guess I’d be too.

So I leave him alone. He has a newfound foreign glow.

I wanted to go to the Japanese gardens today 

but I ended up biking across Manhattan bridge.

On the G Line a man preaches about y2k.

I look back at him and feel a familiar tingle in my eye.

My throat tightens and I wish I knew why

I think about people who have had their wrist cut off for a fool’s gold watch.

In industrial Brooklyn I read a book about St. Marks Place

And then about Syria before the war.

Someone approaches me but no, I’m not interested

I want to eat avocado tacos in the restaurant with the picnic tables out in the back.

You have to ask specially to sit there.

Bother me later.

My newest friend is my camp counselor from three years ago. 

He recognized me but I needed a reintroduction.

He’s headed to a costume party and asks if I want to come.

We promise to keep in touch but it’s likely I’ll forget.

Someone’s blocking the traffic on third avenue. 

He’s wearing a mask I recognize from Venetian Carnevale and fiercely protecting his box of pizza. 

A woman turns up her nose as she walks by with pink-wrapped succulents. 

I quickly text a promise that I’ll be there in 12 minutes. 

A little girl is selling garlands in the park

I buy one for the sake of it.

When she grins at me I see the holes in her teeth.

I’ll have a word with her dentist and book an appointment for next Thursday.

Do I have time to talk about the water crisis?

Not now, but I leave my postal code. 

I have to go recite Tartuffe aloud on the M Train. 

It doesn’t help.

What would I name a boat?

What about, Second happiest day of your life is the day you buy your boat.

But then I’d be Tartuffe. And what about the water crisis?

Sorry I gotta get home.


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