We Jesus walked Lake Mendota
We could only do it in the winter time, but we pulled off that miracle
And before Bootstrap
Bootstrap was an after school program where kids from the south side got paid to do their homework. I only remember collecting two paychecks, but it wasn’t all about the money.
It was about the Crew: Andrew and Enrique,
Andrew was a year or two older than us,
He was the one who got us to take our first steps on that winter lake.
The first time was so seductively scary
We saw Andrew confidently walking out there
Like it was second nature,
Enrique taped into that second natureness first,
Right behind him I grabbed the edge of the the bridge,
Then tapped the ice with one foot,
With my other foot firmly on soft snow on solid ground.
Soon I split from the ground
Out on Ice
Holding on to the bridge
Following Enrique and Andrew
As we went out further and further,
They went fast and reckless
as I confidently trailed slowly,
Slowly one foot down as I had to let go of the Bridge.
Slowly as we moved towards the trees,
Slowly as I held the tree branches above,
Slowly as we passed the trees
Slowly as we moved out to the middle of the lake
Slowly I breath
with my hands
Back at bootstrap.
High off near death.
We are “Damn” and “stupid” and “crazy as hell”
From the names the other kids are calling us for walking on Ice.
February is here, and I didn’t walk on Lake Mendota today,
Instead I come to bootstrap straight from school,
Walking through the hall
To the sound of a harsh and fast sounding Shhhhhhh—
Andrew is blow drying his soaking wet self,
“I fell in.”
“Near the bridge. It happened so fast”
Mom snaps a pencil in front of my siblings and me.
Family meetings are interesting; sometimes.
Most times they’re mom screaming and dad sleeping; tiresome.
Sometimes they’re lil Vinny stuttering, Relly rel picking his nose and trying to touch me, And CC and (A)lysia eyes rolling; hilarious
But today it’s interesting.
We’re all watching mom as she snaps a pencil,
And then another,
Back to back,
Silence is thick,
And the splintering wood cutting through
Like chewing ice cubes.
“A pencil by itself will break”
She snaps another.
“Easily. But 7 pencils....”
She says, collecting a handful of pencils,
“Now, let’s work together. Do a strong power hour. And clean this house.”
Her name meant Queen,
In the way that she walked and tilted her head in a new weave,
In the way that she would angle her camera, leaving one to have to look up to her eyes and lips and song, in her instagram stories,
In the way that she sings along to 102.7
with her hand under my chin,
I was in the her palm.
Scared that I’d lose myself.
Or that living for someone else would mean that I couldn’t live for me.
Or for the fact that when it came to my feelings,
My analysis was full of “I don’t Know’s”
I knew that I loved her.
Really loved her like “out of breath laughing as she talks to me like she a thug,
Really loved her like fuck morning breath, give me a kiss, I need those lips.
Like If I got it, WE got it.
Like, I will listen to your whole day and everything you hated about it
Like holding her close on sticky steamy summer nights” loved her.
I don’t know.
With her I feel like I’m drowning.
Confused on what the future holds,
Confused on what the present means,
Floating on her why’s,
On her, “I feel like this” intelligence.
We fell in quick.
After month 4 we were constantly talking about our future,
Like naming our children’s middle names kinda future.
We had a Lake Mendota deep,
But it felt Man Made, like I was the man maid-ing a family.
Thinking more and more about my children and queen,
Entering or envision a darker Future
Where I’m sinking while swimming
Where I’m forgetting
Where I don’t know myself well, and being misunderstood,
While trying to understand
As we fall into the lake
I fear losing my goal.
My goal to save my family.
I fear the goal of starting a family
before I’m able to make my parent retire.
Nothing happens overnight.
It’s the slow fall into adjusting.
Slowly not being ready, but going.
Slowly helping my parents, but never seeing them their mansion.
Slowly into being parents saying, “Help!”
Slowly into not spending enough time at home,
Slowly working and working, and not wanting to come home,
Slowly realizing that that Zodiac App was right,
Slowly into What If?
Slowly into getting a divorce,
Slowly going back to being broke
Slowly back to back when we were eating cold lunch at school and drinking spoiled milk at home.
Slowly back to coupon clipping poverty.
Hitting Rock bottom,
Yelling bubbles out of my mouth,
“It all happened so fast.”
About the artist...
Terrence Carey is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago where he received a a degree in Theater: Acting. He has been performing all over Chicago for the past 5 years. He can be seen performing in his very diverse improv groups, ’99 Problemz, Chicago’s improvised 90’s sitcom, as well as his improvised spoken word group, PREACH. Terrence is repping the south side of Madison, Wisconsin. Find him on Tumblr: terrencecarey.tumblr.com.
Want to see more of Terrence’s work?
Check out his piece, Aunt Alison, from Issue VII: Passing Notes!