We put our weapons in the trunk––
by Sean McDowell
a wood staff, two metal bats, & a BB-gun
shaped like a Luger––
& set out for Lincoln Park in Trevor's '94 Firebird.
I sat in the back
with Kenny & the words of Wyclef,
believing what I sang
meant 'brotherhood' in another language.
Back then, we wanted fear
to break up the faceless days, believing Trevor
when he told us
that cults gathered at night
outside the park next to our high school.
I think some part of me wanted to place evil so close
to where I slept––
inside the people around me in everyday places.
I wanted to believe
that in a city where the sun burned into us daily,
something cold could settle.
We armed ourselves from the trunk
& cut through
a soccer field to the desert that dropped
into darkness beyond
the wide arcs of the field lights. I was first in,
the others tightening
into a line behind me as I angled through mesquites.
I watched ahead,
trying to catch the glow of a bonfire on the horizon,
pretending not to hear
the barking of a dog in a nearby yard. I wanted
to be lost in the wilderness.
I would not be for years, though on that night I felt it
for the first time,
in the way each word I sang broke from my tongue––
syllables forming words
I could never hope to understand.