She was happiest at home
when the people upstairs
ran their vacuum,
when they vacuumed their
rugs, and the noise
of the vacuum was thick
At school she sat in the middle
of the classroom, surrounded,
and was happiest when
her classmates all chattered
at once—a bubbling hum—
no one voice heard,
no words emerging whole.
She opened books
only to smell the paper,
held them open close to her face,
but kept her eyes on the television,
the pixel teeth of talking heads,
all of the lights turned on
throughout the house, glowing,
and she focused on her breathing,
and the smell of the paper.
She ate onions,
and she smoked
when she ate the onions.
She wore her clothing in layers,
buried somewhere within, her body,
and she sweat into the fibers
of the clothing, drinking off her skin,
sweat smelling of paper and onions,
buried so deeply in her clothing,
her clothing so thick,
she could not bend her legs
when she walked home from school.
At night she slept to a recording of
rain drops on a tin roof, and slept well.
Her grades did not suffer.
David Peak lives and works in Chicago where he is a real person just like other people.