Self-Directed

Just look at the flashing light. Put your feet on the pedals. Focus on the sign that says Colorado. Do not focus on every other thought that has entered your brain this evening. Do not stand staring at your garden, your half-dead peach tree, wishing for a different story.

Because this is your story.

Whatever words were exchanged in that beautiful garden of yours, that hand-weeded, hundreds-of-dollars-of-soil-and-plants garden in the midst of the steppe that is Denver, whatever sprouted from the peony that won’t quite bloom or the poppy you accidentally ripped out or the lupine that isn’t ready yet?

They are not your words.

They are his and hers, and you will never know nor understand.

Will they follow you across this intersection? Will they be at the back of your brain when you run that stop sign in front of the giant F250, thinking, “I dare you” thinking about that Denver Post-Washington Post-Colorado-New-York-Times article about the 47-year-old professional cyclist who got hit by a car and died instantly, thinking, “Now that’s the way to go”?

Will they take back everything you’ve said? Will they flash in front of him in front of you, like this imperfect sunset on the half-dead tree?

Will they tell the truth about the constant brutality of raising teenagers? Why don’t we continue to post graduation pics and scholarship offers and art shows and prom nights and not act like behind every moment is a harsh word, a lack of respect, a total disregard of your humanity?

Did I do everything wrong?

Did I do nothing right?

It’s all in this sunset that I can’t quite capture. In the words that I will never hear. In the betrayal that I will never understand.

It’s in my pedals, in this flashing light, as I stand staring at my garden and thinking, Maybe I should have stuck with plants and pups.

But I can’t even raise a peach tree.

And who’s going to raise me?

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