by Susi Lopera
For years I watch Lucky the squirrel’s shag-carpet
tail flit across sticky La Brea tar pits
as I trek from home to school and from school to home.
But on a one-degree-hotter-than-usual Monday
the tar pits become flypaper. I doodle
a tombstone in math class, its epitaph:
Here lies a squirrel, brave in spirit. Trapped in tar,
he left me behind to walk without him.
That afternoon I spend
practicing with Dad. I take a new path
past home to the gym so I won’t have to see
my dead friend, the squirrel.
At the gym, Dad’s body drops.
from their other halves. One centimeter
overshot to the left—in his hand, a racket,
in the air, a ball—and Dad’s down, a stegosaurus
fossil on the wooden court. Dad’s out
of commission now, so I fill afternoons
with chit-chat at the diner, but with one word
the lady in the red cap behind the register
shoves my mind to back to last Monday: “Ma’am,
would you like fries with that?”
Last Monday, my birthday—the hottest day of the year.
When I watched Lucky move toward the center
of the tar. When dad turned half-robot
after the doctor slapped on the aircraft-grade aluminum
knee brace. That day, Dad made Mom leave
to get my present. From the hospital bed,
he handed me a glass box:
a Blue Morpho butterfly, skewered
through its thorax with a pin.
About the Author
Susi Lopera is a multimedia artist and poet from Medellín, Colombia. She currently lives in Texas with her family and three silly dogs. She likes wearing mismatched socks and enjoys talking to herself in British and French accents. Her work has been published by Typishly, Likely Red Press, and Rigorous.