talk about the time you woke up this morning

I lost someone several years ago. This isn’t the type of loss where you forget where they’ve moved to or no longer have their phone number or got into a ridiculous fight and no longer speak to one another.

This was was the kind of loss that cannot be found.

Fidgeon and I met at Christopher Park in the west village where many poems were written and drugs were scored. I’d sit on the same bench with whatever notebook I was writing in at the time and watched the people arriving and remaining. He was there the first time and most of the times. Through him, I met Justin from Jersey who got clean in jail but wasn’t quite clean anymore. Through him, I met Martin, an old hustler. I met Debbie, covered in bed bugs from the shelters. I met the man with several large nose rings. But it was always Fidgeon I came back to.

After we met, I wrote a poem about him. It wasn’t something I aimed to do, the words arrived.

getting my bearings downtown on christopher street

jesus wants to save his forearm from something that might get him another bullet hole or stab wound willing his pale freckled skin to break away so he sits there/ frozen / awaiting his resurrection/ as the arm lifts brandy to lips speaking to me/ and all I can hear is the sound of pigeons chased away…

I gave this poem to him, captured in thin purple chapbook several months later. He could not believe a poem had been written about him. For him. In his white, ribbed tank top and short sleeved shirt dangling from his back pocket, he jumped around the park shouting:

I got a poem published! This poet wrote about me! I have a poem! I’m in a poem!

Fidgeon couldn’t read well, so he asked me to read it to him. His eyes, the color of ocean strained of human waste, watched me sound out each word.

I kept going back. He’d tell me about his ex-wife who he still loved and hated simultaneously. His son, who was forever tattooed on his shoulder blades. He never asked me for money. And when I was there, he protected me. If Justin or someone whose name I hadn’t learned came up to me (“Can I be in a poem too?”), he’d push them away. He liked full access to the poet. To me. And I gave him my full attention because I knew him best. I knew he was trying hard to stop drinking, even though he later died from it.

Fidgeon did not know much about me. As years went by, my own behaviors were not so dissimilar to those who frequented this park. The difference was I was going to University or had an apartment to return to and a family who still called and a savings account.

Almost three years ago, on a wintery day in mid-January, I learned of Fidgeon’s death from the man with many nose rings. I cried for this man whose last name I never learned.

I haven’t lost many loved ones in my life. I’ve let go of a lot of people as I’ve gotten older. It’s difficult for me to maintain friendships. I’m hardened. I’ve got walls that even lovers haven’t been able to break through.

Now, Fidgeon’s photograph is taped to the window in my bedroom. He floats. Often, when I wake, it feels like a choice. Sometimes, I waver. Sometimes I still go back to Christopher Park and just wish I could see him one more time to let him know what he really meant to me.

So, there was this morning when I woke up. After that time I tried to slice away my lineage. After the night where I passed out from illegal substances. After that time I entered into a world I should never have been a part of. After that time and that time and that time and there was that time…

Sometimes, it is just because I set my alarm clock and I don’t want to disappoint it by pressing snooze over and over again.

Sometimes it is because of that cup of coffee.

Sometimes it is after glimpsing an orange-squeezed sunrise and how can I sleep that away?

I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow morning. I can only talk about this one. And today, I am waking up for him.

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