They gave me a navy folder with
a packet of information twenty pages thick,
the first page titled “Day One.”
But there wasn’t a first day. A first month perhaps,
a memory salad of molding dread and sharp panic.
There was the first cut,
in public of course,
my hands fumbling a sharp piece of junk in a Good Will.
The high school clerk did not
appreciate my urgency for a Band-Aid
while blood—horror movie red
ballooned—from the tiny wound.
I bought the trash and took it home.
My first trophy.
There was the first education,
a confiding one-sided script.
People will say anything
in safe company.
He had put his
“health at risk, you know?”.
Truth shared under the assumption of a common status.
That was the first silence as well.
I was still learning how to speak; I could not yet teach.
There was the first rejection, but that only deserves one line.
There was the first doctors appointment.
The first blood draw.
The first results.
The first time they took my blood pressure
they had to take it again,
telling me I had to calm down,
that this was not
the first time someone had been in my position.
That was the first time I heard white coat syndrome.
Your new obsession becomes the first of many.
A refreshed interest in books,
things you said you would learn some other day,
or perhaps movies, foreign films,
you devour them, amass so many of these titles
you must buy a new book shelf,
you start looking at new TVs with better resolution,
you find a new couch to better hold you in these
delicate moments of escape.
I bought plants.
I bought so many,
willed my thumb turn from black to green,
surrounded myself with as much life as
I could fit on my south-facing patio.
To see the humble arc of beginning,
flourishing beautiful middle, and
graceful, lingering end, was my first recovery.
The next year I only bought five.
The first plant I bought lived
all through summer and into fall.
I buried it in wet November mud
next to a creek and
did not think of myself.
TRAVIS CROCKETT considers poetry to be a fourth alternative to Albert Camus’ options for dealing with the absurdity of life. Instead of willful denial through religion, suicide, or a total embrace of absurdity, poetry permits his desire for something greaterthan himself, acknowledges the terrors of being alive, and shakes hands with l’absurde. Travis considers poetry to be a way to wink back when the abyss get awkward and stares too long. He lives in Texas with his boyfriend and his dog.