Seconds after I release the dogs from the leash, I notice a rooster in the park. Within moments, the dogs also notice the rooster and run after the unfortunate bird. Once the bird starts squawking, the dogs stop moving. Feeling somewhat triumphant or hysterically brave, the rooster stands still, crowing, while my dogs cower. I put the leash back on the dogs and decide to return with my bike to find a way to rescue the rooster with his clipped wings. It is at this moment that I realize I have never seen a rooster flying over my head, though I have seen plenty of huge birds airborne.
Perpetually insomniac, as young teen I’d walk for miles in the middle of the night, never heading anywhere in particular, just walking. When the shifts changed, I’d see cars heading in and out of the factory parking lot. Sometimes I’d see people sitting alone at the Howard Johnson’s restaurant. Everyone out that late at night was older than me. Kids my age seemed to be in bed where I imagined them deep in sleep. One night, a man stepped outside his front porch and yelled: “Get on home. It ain’t safe for a girl to be out at this hour. You should get your wings clipped.” Wings clipped or not, I knew I’d still be unable to sleep.
My favorite souvenir is now a rather ratty woven folder that I picked up in India long ago, and I use it to stash these oddball $2 bills, favorite letters, and old passports.
Diane Payne’s most recent publications include: Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House Quarterly, Superstition Review, Burrow Press, and Cheat River Review. She has work forthcoming in The Offing and a chapbook with Blue Lyra Press.