• P.C. Rogers

of broken hearts and empty chairs


In the grids and blocks of the midwest everything in my life was ordered under a vast sky and blazing sunsets. Lilac bloomed in rows. Soybean seed fell in stripes in black earth. Hay stacked like neat building blocks too tempting not to play in. As high as I could climb mulberries stained my fingertips and lips. Rainbows shimmered in sprinkler water and grass clung to my wet feet and legs. Everything to the tune of Grampa's creaking wood bankers chair, men's rough, loud, voices telling the same stories I'd heard for a lifetime around plates of food and cups of Gramma's steaming coffee. Home was curls of Grampa's cigar smoke in an ancient house that remembered more lifetimes than generations I knew, where wonders were stored in countless boxes stacked on shelves in a room off the kitchen for just in case. Friendships were easy and plentiful, love was simple and carefree, and family never ended. I was wanted, there, in that place that birthed me. Floors groaned, boots stamped, spoons scraped, trucks roared, and I grew up. I was plucked from the only place that ever made sense to me, taken from my home without permission and thrown into a wilderness of strange people, musty smells, and fields of rock turned over by mumbling speakers on rotting tractors under a sky that hid itself. Chaos took root in me, and through time and season I slowly broke apart like a boulder under a tree. I watched that home decay. I held the hands of family as they left me behind for places I wasn't allowed to follow. Abandonment flew its banner over me, and I scrambled to toe an ever moving line. I learned heartbreak and bent under the lashes of careless abuse metered out across endless years for offenses I didn't understand. I bled friends and dreams until I stood alone, too fear-frozen to reach for anyone or anything. Every value I held, every good thing I could offer anyone, was stolen and burnt up like grass in a hungry fire by those who despised me. I was detested in this horrid place that stole me. I forgot home for abandoning my reaching hands, and I laid down in the darkness that had swallowed me and I gave up all hope to the miserable swirling hatred that stalked my every step. I just knew I would never reach 'okay' ever again. Yet, quite by chance, with what remained, I threw myself at the Wayside, like a tiny meteor fizzling in the blink of an eye into invisible atmosphere chooses a place to dissolve. Wayside with Grampa in his creaking old wood chair. Wayside with its endless stacks of boxes just in case. Wayside with its lilacs in a row. Wayside with steaming cups of coffee made by Gramma. Wayside where a family stands together. Wayside with stamping boots, groaning floors, rough talking men, and roaring trucks. I found this tiny, obscure, portal back home, free and open and just waiting for me. Wayside unintentionally stitched up all those broken seams simply because it exists and I've been lucky enough to see it. Sorrow has touched that little world. And it scabs my heart to see that empty desk- in selfish ways I can never really fully explain more than this. But maybe, one reason, is because an old man who didn't even know he was a hero used it to create this little snow-globe world that fixed so much for me. And I'll have to wait a whole lifetime to tell him so.

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