PSHS Bandroom. Brass Storage. Tuba Shelf #2 by Amanda Barbour

Little known secret: You can get anywhere in a high school
if you walk like someone has summoned you. At least, that’s the way
it used to be:

Cutting class again, I escape to the arts enclave through
the choir room and past adjoining office windows without being seen,
into woodwind storage where stacked piccolos and clarinets
cohabitate with saxophones, bassoons, and –


Darkness so complete, but I don’t need the light.
I pull a chair to the shelves,
And hoist my body into the portal.
The space behind the tubas is just enough for me;
enough for all my fears and failings,
for dreams, hopes, tears.
For the shame I knew when he caught me smoking in the rain,
and the way it felt when my best friend kissed
and then betrayed me.

I don’t remember the first time
I entered that quiet and felt the safety
of darkness deep enough to conceal.
Brown-painted plywood shelving units
for tubas and sousaphones.
I was driven by some unkindness or insecurity,
bully-words and anxious thoughts.
Knees pulled to chest,
my fourteen-year old frame
curled and rocked with tears.
Where no one would find,
no one would search.
Not that they even knew
I was gone.

Thirty-three and too old for hiding,
most days I still need a place like this.


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