Paradise

By
She runs to get away from it all:
whether on horseback,
or her own two feet,
or in her car,
or even just in a loose sense of the word,
'running' by closing her eyes and just
imagining herself somewhere else
anywhere else.

Usually she is:
on a beach,
riding a horse through the waves,
smiling,
laughing,
free.

When she wakes up it hurts.
Sometimes her mother hears her crying
but she never knows what to say,
so she doesn't say anything at all.

It isn't fair:
that they moved away,
that they sold Dakota,
the only friend she had,
her pretty bay mare
who knew her better than anyone,
crazy as that seems.

There is no ocean in Minnesota.
To her there is only despair,
so cold and gray
nothing like
bright beautiful
warm
California.

If only she could go back
if she could just go home,
find Dakota,
race down the beach,
where nothing is gray or cold
it would be like paradise.

Waking up is so hard
she wants to dream instead.
She just wants to go home
Minnesota is not home and it never will be
no matter what her parents think.

It would be better if she weren't so cold
she thinks, driving home too fast
on a dark, freezing January night.
Reckless and free
the closest she comes to happy in this place.
(It isn't very close
because there are tears on her face).
She hits a patch of black ice
and then all she knows:
crunch
smash
pain
cold.

At the funeral everyone hopes
that somewhere
she is riding horse
on a beach
somewhere warm
her paradise.





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