My mother said she wished I would disappear. Not die, because then she might carry it— no, worse. She asked that I fade away like a wisp of smoke, and become nothing. Years pass, and still I try to grant her wish. Underneath a blanket of stars, I sit and drink from a bottle to un-create myself. That bitter liquid seeps through me. My beating heart carries it into my mind, dissolving memories. You’ve surely seen it, reader—those on the street who stayed too long and lost themselves, became no one. Not dead, but gone. Still visible yet vanished. Cold wind rustles through the trees and stings my exposed cheeks. The park bench is hard, empty. Insects chirp. Car headlights occasionally cut through the darkness—drivers headed to a place they belong. What day is it now? Even time has left me. I know only days and nights. The liquor warms my throat and chest. When I put a hand to my face, the face feels foreign. Rough whiskers, oily, overgrown hair, crusted dirt that flakes off at a touch. With no one left, not even myself, I look up and say: ‘Stars, galaxies, universe, I ask only one thing of you. Not to save me—I’m past that. I want you to let me glimpse what it takes to believe with my soul, not my words.’ The world spins now, spins like the constellations swirling above my head. I fall backward and feel the earth, the soft grass, the dirt, moving beneath me. Pastels of starlight blur, melting into a dream just as my eyes close. Beyond all of this—me, you, matter, all of it— there is so much more. I can only see it with my eyes closed, but it radiates truth.
On a Park Bench
David S. Anderson
David Anderson was a contemporary poet living in Tucson, Arizona. He was a talented and friendly part of the writing community in Tucson and was encouraging to those he met. David grew up in Santa Rosa, California and moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona. He was a teacher at Saguaro High for two years before deciding to get a degree in computer science. Anderson recently landed a major internship in the field. Unfortunately, David's life ended on May 1, 2021, but his poetry and encouragement live on in those who knew him. This poem is published posthumously with permission from his family.