SECRET ACT after Sharon Oldsʼ “One Secret Thing”: the four corners of the room were not creatures, were not the four winds of the earth, if I did not do this I performed the secret act the night Bobby Jones died, we were eighteen. I knew it should happen— I knew he was still around, hanging out, wanting to toss a ball or something but everyone had gone crazy. And the car waited for me outside, arthritic old steed glowing tiredly white and I opened the passenger door. Bobby slid in, rubber grace of the town’s best athlete. I had once said, loveyoumorethanfriends. His eyes were lagoon-colored. It was late. The frogs were screaming. I watched myself drive us to the outskirts of town, the town aging around us, sleeping as it aged. Who would I be if I did not do this— I pulled up to the causeway where frats had gathered skull-sized boulders so they could proclaim in rock letters to the whipping cars above, ∑N, ∏KA. A train went by, right through me and Bobby disappeared. I shone the headlights up the concrete slope. Each boulder I lifted tried to tear me off at the shoulders. And then I worked for myself, for the notion that I could be loved, I positioned, repositioned, dirty, scratched, sweating, alone, four a.m. The secret I did not know then was how easily I would fall every time for truants, bartenders, marines, joining orbits by habit, scraping my hands and ripping my fingernails, as the boulders formed a tribute to how hard I would work for love: B, as the sun came up, J.
Born in the Costa Rican jungle, Oceana Callum holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from California State University, Long Beach. Her most recent poetry publications are in Making Up (Picture Show Press, 2020) and the Cider Press Review Volume 18, Issue 4. She lives in Oceanside, CA.
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