Found Some Nice Pots at the Thrift Store

Image created by Cynthia Pierce

I won’t waste time trying to be remembered. It usually doesn’t last long enough to matter. It’s a fool that even tries—going around singing and dancing on the internet. Make my gravestone out of bird seeds and honey. In fact, just throw my ashes in the sea, right next to Morro Rock.

I want to live in a trailer park in Bakersfield.

I’ll wear jeans, and T-shirts that say, “Bakersfield,” or “California,” with a retro sunshine, or with California poppies on them. I’ll keep my brown hair in a ponytail at the back of my neck and wear a peach baseball cap. I’ll work at the local feed store, selling animal foods to individuals and farmers. I’ll help my boss hire the certificated seasonal workers who will sex the newborn, fluffy yellow chicks that will make a constant peeping racket. I’ll check on the workers as they rapidly turn the little guys over with rubber gloves, look at their little yellow tooshes (tiny, angry peep-heads protesting) then toss them offhand into the little boy or girl cages.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Who cares? They taste good in a sandwich.

Then, when I’m old, I’ll retire, and I won’t get a party in the back room. I’ll be replaced, and they’ll forget me. I’ll hear peeping in my dreams and forget why.

Don’t bother taking my picture, unless you just want to have it for a little while. I’ll have yours for a little while too, while you live with me.

I’ll never back up my files.

I’ll tell people stories that will dissipate with the waves of sound from my voice and the warmth of my breath. I’ll fall in love with black cats that have thumbs and like to hug me around the neck. They’ll only live a little while and then I may forget them and get another one. I’ll be kind to my neighbors who will forget my name and I’ll forget theirs, and how many kids they have, and that time I overheard them fighting in their trailer. I’ll collect gnome figurines, including the joke ones because I won’t be able to stop myself—like one that’s riding a motorcycle and wearing shades.

I won’t get tattoos because that would be too interesting. No, wait, I’ve seen quite a lot of people in Bakersfield with tattoos, including my cousin Dee Dee who has a master’s in horticulture and two forearms covered in swirling flowers and leaves so that her arms disappear when she carries a pile of leafy branches. I need a common tattoo, like a skull and roses—here, on my left shoulder, so I can show it to people if they ask. Perfect.

But what if people ask what it means to me personally? I can say…um, “You live, you die, then plants grow out of you.” DeeDee will love it. Then she will live, and die, and we’ll follow her instructions to have her body put into one of those rough, brown cocoon thingies that turn dead people into mulch, and then plants will grow out of her.

Maybe God alone will remember me if I remember him…or, I’ll forget.

I’ll watch the skinny trees turn into big trees in the common yard and the parking lot. I’ll watch the men prune them every year with gladness that I don’t have to work in the hot sun like that. An old friend from high school will be mad, for some reason, that I never called, and I’ll say, “Has it really been that long?” I’ll accidently send my sister the same birthday card I got her three years before because it’s perfect for her and made me laugh—again.

Maybe I’ll have a child somewhere in all that. As soon as she’s weaned, she’ll forget me. She’ll toddle right down the hanging, metal steps of the trailer, and climb right into a gray Dodge Ram truck driven by a toddler boy wearing an edgy Rick and Morty diaper, a sunshine-smiling boy covered in more tattoos than her boring mother has. She’ll return just to throw my ashes onto the windy beach, while her husband holds up her phone and records her as she says, “Ugh! I think I got Mom in my mouth!”

I’ll leave this world with one-hundred and twenty-six dollars in the bank, an old trailer-house, and one eighteen-year-old, dented, sparkly-purple and spray-paint-gray Toyota that’s worth one hundred dollars in scrap metal.

My black cat will go up to the neighbor, yawling that no one has fed her because my daughter will have forgotten her, and when the neighbor picks her up, she will hug the neighbor around her neck, wrinkling the neighbor’s flowery muumuu dress in the back.

The drooping spider plants, pointy Aloe vera, and fragrant rosemary in home-made pots dripped with shiny glazes, sitting on the ground around the shady front of my trailer, will dry up without a single word of complaint when I stop watering them.

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