Annette Ozolins

The Cost

pebbles rub inside my boot
your hand against my skin and I wonder
why I left in the first place

but I remember now
everything to do with being brought to my knees
I’d better realize the worth of this ring you bought me
and never take it off
even when I’m out with my friends
like the night we saw each other in Vegas
the tables turned
and you had grown
into the kind of man every woman could taste and touch
and feel on top of her

you had a girlfriend
I was involved too
but you said
will you marry me?
I said okay
but I don’t want an Elvis Wedding
and you didn’t care because we’d known each other since the third grade
what a coincidence
moon and stars aligned
I’ve loved you since then, is what you said
I remembered your striped t-shirt
dirty and loose against your skinny-boy frame
playing dodge ball at Benjamin Franklin Elementary
and it occurred to me back then to be nice to you
because you seemed lost
and no one wanted to be your friend
not even the kids who didn’t have any

you promised
all that had been stored up inside
the one who got away
the one you dreamed of
who made waves lap calmly, softly, sticky against the sand
no more crashing into rocks
spewing and sputtering
in all four directions

but a tiger can’t change its stripes
only God can do that
alchemize something into something it is not
a dolphin
a rhino
snow into gold
or a man who says he will never hurt you
no matter the cost

I stick my thumb out to hitch a ride
backpack slung over my shoulder
'Ask The Dust' and 'Leaves of Grass'
two dresses, sandals and a tumbler full of whiskey and seven-up
pictures of me and you and Elvis, no cash and this ring in my pocket
which I’ll sell the minute I get to California

words won’t ease your heart
fixed to the refrigerator with a magnet from the 99Cent Store
words I said over and over
but nothing likes to stick to you
except your body against mine
numb and heavy

I hope she was pretty
this one
and worth enough
and funny and lovely enough
for you to play me
against myself

a semi-truck stops and I climb inside
a lady driver
you shouldn’t be out here this late at night
but the bruise on my cheek quiets her and she turns up the radio
Brian Wilson’s ‘Good Vibrations’
and I breathe shallow and still
until we’re far enough down the road
then I begin to sing, quiet
whatever song comes through the muffled pipes
mostly sad songs
mostly love songs
but it doesn’t matter
I sing
staving off the future
praying I will never return

Bio: Annette Ozolins is a writer and filmmaker and lives in Southern California with her family. She can be found catching waves in the Pacific or hiking the Anza desert slot canyons. She loves storytelling and storytellers, it's her weakness.

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The views and opinions expressed throughout belong to the individual artists and may or may not coincide with those of the other artists (or editors) represented within the magazine. Hobo Camp Review supports a free-for-all atmosphere of artistic expression, so enjoy the poetry, fiction, opinions, and artwork within, read with an open mind, and comment wisely. Thanks for stopping by the Camp!