Sarah A. Chavez
THE DAY THE ALLIGATORS FEASTED ON TIME
Time was as fluid as water
and like water on the asphalt
it evaporated before we could look,
look away, and look back.
And yet it held importance
in worlds we did not honor,
but we honored each other's presence
and without the adherence
to the arbitrary rules of adults,
the tangibility of each other's hands
would have to wait until
a week of grounding was over.
Tracy learned at her school,
that a minute consisted
of sixty seconds and a second
could be measured
through alligators. One alligator,
two alligator. Like that, she said.
We checked the clock again,
saw we had only three minutes
before I had to go home.
But what can be done
in three minutes, except watch
the time slip past?
Not wanting to part early, we sat
on the steps of her mother's porch,
decided to count alligators.
We did the math. It broke down
to one hundred and eighty alligators.
One alligator, two alligator,
three alligator, four alligator,
five alligator, six . . .
The four syllables of alligator
were rhythmic, became hypnotic.
Our warm bodies swayed, shoulder against
shoulder, and our fingers danced
on the other's knee for every number
until the "gators" became
overpowering. Filled with the humming
vibrations of time, we leapt
to our feet and stomped for every last
syllable. Sixteen al-li-ga-TOR,
seventeen al-li-ga-TOR, eighteen
al-li-ga-TOR . . . The weak beams
of the porch quaked under
the devastating weight
of our small feet. And this,
like all things we did together,
We didn't stop at alligator one
hundred and eighty. I never
went home. We just kept stomping
and counting, our arms linked, the alligators
piling higher and higher, rising with the moon.
Sarah A. Chavez, a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking published by Dancing Girl Press (2014). She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review, So to Speak: Feminist Journal of Language and Art, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship in 2013. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.