Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2019  Vol. 18 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
 print preview

The White Thing

I went to my boss’s office and told him I had better go home because
I felt sick. He said, “You don’t look sick.” Then I threw up in his waste-
basket. He said, “I’m sorry I said that. You had better go home.” I said,
“Thank you. I think I will.” I grabbed my hat from the hat rack and headed
for the door. I took the elevator down to the first floor and headed for
the parking lot. I found my car and got in and started driving home. There
was something strange going on. There were palm trees all along the avenues, and
I live in the north. There were parrots flying all over the place and birds I’d never
seen before. I felt hot and it was winter. People were walking in shorts.
I liked it here, better than I’d ever liked it before. Convertibles drove by.
I waved at them, but I also felt lost. I wasn’t getting any closer to my home,
I felt sure of that. All the usual landmarks were gone, nothing seemed familiar.
But I was enjoying my ride, of that I was sure. Women in bathing suits, many
of them bikinis. There must be a beach nearby. Yes, there it was. A beautiful
white-sand beach. I drove alongside it for miles. Then I turned off onto
a side street. It got darker and darker the further I drove. It was a shanty
town with poor dilapidated houses and people dressed in winter coats. I found
my house among these, needing a roof and broken-down fence. I parked my car
and went inside. The furniture was pathetic. I was afraid to sit in the
chairs. The food in the refrigerator looked ancient and wild. Just minutes ago
I had been on a beautiful beach and now this. I didn’t understand it. How
could life turn you upside down so quickly? I went and found the bed and lay down
in it. Rats scurried out of it and down to the floor. I closed my eyes and
tried to dream of the beach, but sharks kept nipping at my fingers and toes.
I swam faster and I started to sink. I was caught in a fisherman’s net. I
woke up thrashing and screaming. It was my old home, with lovely furniture
and rugs. I went to the fridge and it was full of delicious food, like baked
chicken and fresh fruit. I looked out the window. Beautiful houses and lawns
surrounded me. I felt so happy. Then I remembered I was sick. I threw up
in the wastebasket and collapsed on the floor. I tried to reach for the
phone, but I couldn’t make it. I crawled toward it, but then I passed out.
When I woke up I was in the hospital, but I didn’t know who I was or what that
white thing was leaning over me.  

   Nine Posthumous Poems

return to top