Aanteekwa Gains Her First Disciple

I have just thrust my fist through
a glass window: the lanky and lithe fallow-skinned
young stranger to whom I have just spoken
about the dying river stares at me, curious but unaware
of the millions of tiny glass shards that rain down
upon the grass at our feet. I breathe some of them
in: they unite to form a ball of jagged diamonds,
bloodied with guilt, sitting just above my larynx. And
I can barely swallow. So I detonate

that little glass ball inside my neck: and
the shards melt away into nothingness. But from
the center of the explosion, a vapor of black smoke
drifts up, wrapped in a white chiffon dress and
crowned with black victory rolls of hair. Her arms,
gloved white up to their elbows, fold in disapproval
as a scowl oozes over her face and hangs
in thick brow clouds over her eyes. Child, have you lost
your mind? Nobody gonna believe you about that
river. Now, you can end this by excusing yourself politely
and walking away. I turn my head, still too
shattered to speak, and then notice

that the front door to that old brick-shouldered
house in which I grew up is wide open. Mother
stands on the porch, wearing that same
chiffon dress, its white now faded into a yellow-gray
dingy whimper, and those same elbow gloves,
their fingertip mouths agape with the shock of wear
and age. Her anemic, gray-streaked hair can no longer
handle the victory rolls, so she has settled for
disheveled hair that reaches out frayed ends
bent into coils and crooks like gnarled, hungry knuckles
in every direction. Helen! Helen, where your father
at? she shouts, her paper voice ripped and curled at
every edge, forgetting that Father has been dead
for twelve years.

I don’t bother to explain to her about the
chunks of time that have slipped out of her ears,
or the man who slipped through her fingers like
slick dollars swimming downstream, or the messages
I have been given to bear upon my shoulders and
tongue: she doesn’t seem to listen too well these days,
anyway. I turn to the young man, still sitting silently on the
park bench – and a blurred photo of him from
two years ago comes into full focus with clean,
crystal edges. I say: You’re Paula Williams’ son,
aren’t you? I do know you, after all. Still, I’m sorry
to bother you, young man. He looks at Mother,
who still stands on the porch, looking through him as if
he were a transparent shadow. I almost walk away, but
he looks back at me and then stands up. I stop and turn
to listen. Yes, Ma’am, you’re right. My name is Nick. I
remember you – you work with my mother at the
hospital. I glance once more towards Mother,

who has begun to waltz on the porch with
another ghost – perhaps another young man who used
to compete with Father for this gilded, marzipan prize. I
turn to Nick, who glances at the spectacle for a moment
before replying. It’s okay – you didn’t bother me, he
says. I believe you. And my friend Rachel thinks that
the creek is polluted, too. He looks down at his watch,
and then looks back up at me. She would probably be home
right now. Do you want to go to her place? She lives
in the trailer park at Carmody and Route 4. Maybe
between the three of us, we figure out how to tell everybody
about the creek. I turn and look, just in time to see a
Green Line bus pass Fifteenth Avenue as it ambles down
South Main. We run towards it, hearing its wheels screech
to a halt as it stops at the bus stop on front of the park.

Written 6/14/13 and 6/18/13
© 2013 Nicole Nicholson. All Rights Reserved.

This poem is for We Write Poem Prompt #161: Recursion — a remembrance of things past. The prompt encourages us to visit the self, the identity of our protagonist, through repetition, early memories, and “a seminal relationship of your protagonist”.

You’ll notice that this is the first poem of the series written in the first person: up until now, I’ve been using a third person omniscient narrator. I figured it was about time for Aanteekwa to speak for herself.

This is a continuation of the same scene from the last poem, “Aanteekwa Learns the Meaning of Her Name” (see below for link). This happens around mid-September of 1990.

Read the next poem, “Crow and Bear“.


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About ravenswingpoetry

I am a 38 year old writer from Columbus, OH and the creator of Raven's Wing Poetry. I am a poet, seeker, fellow traveler, and autistic.
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9 Responses to Aanteekwa Gains Her First Disciple

  1. Pingback: Aanteekwa Learns the Meaning of Her Name | Raven's Wing Poetry

  2. Irene says:

    The portrait of her mother is riveting. I like that there is such a wealth of historical detail beneath your story.

  3. Pamela says:

    This is exquisite, Nicole. I remember “Nick” from your writing, what 2 or 3 years back? Great character development.


  4. Thank you, Irene. Debutante Emily is certainly losing her mind. I haven’t decided what, if anything, that Aanteekwa will do about it yet. Maybe one of the next two prompts will give that opportunity, but we shall see. 🙂


  5. Thank you, Pamela. You’re right – I introduced Nick a few years ago, but I have mostly been writing about him as an adult. Nick here in this storyline is 14 years old. Nick’s poems can be found here: https://ravenswingpoetry.com/tag/nick-Williams


  6. Pingback: Crow and Bear | Raven's Wing Poetry

  7. Pingback: Anteekwa’s Epistle to Steelville | Raven's Wing Poetry

  8. julespaige says:

    Thank you for the links at the end of your last piece in this series. It helps when I try to catch up. I really enjoy your powerful writing.

  9. Thank you, Jules. I figured people would want to go back and read – not only that, it helps me in finding all of the Helen poems on this blog.


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