Ghosts on skateboards
Ryder Collins

The guy last summer ghosted me so I ghosted the guy this summer. The next guy I dated. It’d been that long between the two, and I didn’t get laid by either. & now I’m 35 and afraid of sex again; the way I’d been back when I was 20 (late bloomer, yeah, I know, and just a little younger than you are now), back when I was setting out like Cabot or Cartier or Drake or Cortez. Looking for a fabled passage to all the spices. Looking for the fountain of youth. Water everywhere.

Now the waters are all dried up & full of garbage masses & old white men’s knees knobbing out of the bath. Pruney and cold.

You are not old. You are not pruney & cold. This much I know.

I also know you share my fascination with the upper eyelid & icepicks. Lobotomies & Trotskies. Rundown flats in the middle of nowhere where there’s nowhere else to go. Not even a fire escape. Not even a bathroom window. Not even an oven I could push myself into.

You said, Sylvia Plath was on to something.

I said, On something?

You said, Yeah, oven cleaner. Motherhuffer.

And you laughed and laughed and laughed. I wanted to stop your laughter with a kiss; stop your tongue and lips with my tongue. Get our tongues all tied and twisted until neither of us could pun.

Now you’re top down somewhere on a sun lounger & your back’s all golden brown. You turn over & there’s always someone who wants to rub you down with Coppertone or Hawaiian Tropic or whatever was the best/worst sun cream ad when I was young.

When I was young you were not yet born.

When you were not yet born life was college radio, was Siouxsie kohl around the eyes, was parents at work and not giving a fuck, was jumping up and down on my bed to Sex Pistols, was Suicidal Tendencies blaring through open windows onto suburban summer sidewalks. I was always and forever awaiting skateboarders, and only middle aged family men walked by with fat panting labs. I never asked any of them in for a Jolt or to safety pin anarchy signs on their middle-aged skin.

I no longer scar inner wrist skin with safety pins. I’m reformed, and listen to dreamcore. I also never see you anymore.

Once you skateboarded to me. Once and only once.

It was early morning campus & I was just getting old yet wasn’t realizing how old I was getting so I was still kind of young, or at least I thought so. I was in my hatchback, listening to Beach House & drinking dark roast from a steel mug. Getting caffeinated for the fall. An early morning Alabama fog that didn’t creep but ambushed suddenly surrounded me. I would have said it was like age but I am still and forever pretending. You didn’t really skateboard to me but near me. Close enough I could have touched you through the dreamcore, could have reached you and would have reached you, would have jumped on the back of your skateboard or jumped on the back of you or at least just given you a lift if you had asked me to.

I’d safety-pin scratch and scratch if it’d bring you back. Even for that moment, even in Alabama in all the fog. Just so you’d get in and we could drive somewhere, anywhere, listening to Siouxsie and the Banshees’ A Kiss in the Dreamhouse.

My eyes suddenly kohled; my hair straight jet black. We drive and drive through punk, through New Wave, through Postpunk, to alternative and indie and everything to come.

There’s no fog but all the water around us.

We’re riding through it all, and there’s Coppertone for your chest and back if you need it.

Ryder Collins has a novel, Homegirl! Her chapbook, The way the sky was now, won Heavy Feather Review’s first fiction chapbook contest, and she has two chapbooks of poetry, i am hopscotch without hop and Orpheus on toast.