Landscapes for the Homeless

January 14, 2012
By Leslie,S SILVER, Chicago, Illinois
Leslie,S SILVER, Chicago, Illinois
6 articles 0 photos 1 comment

I quietly wait. The metal cools my back makes me slightly shiver. It reminds me of the winds breath. I know that soon I’ll be back, where I can breath air that doesn’t taste of fear and hate.

I’ve lived in the woods for 5 months and 22 days. I’ve never stopped writing since falling into this bizarre, introspective journey, with a mutable path. I write down everything, so I don’t miss a moment. I write the sounds of the night. The trickling water and creaking branches. During the day I wander around the streets and jot down conversations that I hear, or imagine.

I came home today. The walk back was cold, and I almost forgot how to find my tree. I marked it with a tattered red scarf, unusable for anything else. I assume it has long since been swept away by the wind and rain. Eventually I find the rug where my wadded up sheet lies; not much for a bed, but still…

The shagged, tan, moldy rug is littered with dead pines from the tree. I remember how elated I was when I found it. I was the luckiest 19 year old in the world. I pictured it across the ground with sturdy but still homemade walls on three sides. The great outdoors was all I thought I needed to wipe myself clean of the past. It would eventually build up to a tree-house fantasy. It was the perfect plan for the stupidest mind. I gathered it up and laid it down in front of the pine tree by the creek. As I look at it now, the more disgusted I become. No warmth comes from it, saturated with frigid rainwater, and no comfort from the once soft fabric. The only things it delivers me are pathogens and graying hope. My last cigarette bud sits where I left it, as does the empty pack. The brush I swept the floor with is too dirty to now use.

I methodically place newly bought items down; two razors for shaving and trimming, a red pen (pencils break too easily), and today dinner. A fresh apple swiped from the farmers marked, and a P.B and J. from some girl’s paper bagged lunch. She told me she wasn’t hungry, and that I looked starving. She wasn’t wrong about that. I didn’t see the sterile wrapped plastic fork until I already ate the buttered spaghetti with my bare hands. Thankfully there was a napkin in the sacked lunch as well. A candy was there as well. It tasted like pecans. This little girl must have a taste for peanuts, cashews, and other nut-like-things. I didn’t like it much, but knew that the squirrels would have field day. I left the half eaten candy on my half constructed table.

I wish I asked that girl for some paper. She was holding a spiral notebook in front of my face, full of clean sheets. I could have easily ripped it from her tiny hands, but that’s not who I am. Still, I’m desperate for paper. Just because my pencil sharpener is rusty doesn’t mean it won’t function at the basic level needed for use. Sure my chewed nub of a pencil has long since worn the eraser down to the cold, hard metallic base, but I can still use it. I can still write. I can still feel as if I have a voice.

I don’t have anyone to talk to, and I refuse to be the homeless person who talks to himself while crouching on a curb, rocking from side to side and smelling like a combination of seat, mud, urine, and uselessness. Admittedly I was arrested, but after being held for six weeks I was discharged today. I’m still in the process of building my desk, but someone has striped me of my tools. My hammer and nails have vanished and all that’s left are my wooden planks.

I loosen my belt, drop my rugged jeans, and unbutton my flannel shirt. It’s too hot to be wearing flannel anyway. I ease myself into the creek and think about what to do next.

I need my writing desk…and then I need paper.

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