What can be salvaged from a life

Sometimes we drank the freedom 

trail—walked wobbly 

on cobblestones, 

ducked into tiny bars 

to down beers and then look 

at centuries old graves. 

We stood before rotting 

churches and tried to feel new. 

Already half hung over 

we climbed the 294 steps 

of the Bunker Hill monument 

and looked down at the city

sweaty and woozy from heat.  

We did this for everyone 

who visited as if it was tradition

or a game we played all the time. 

When I was a teenager, 

I jumped over the guard rail 

and onto Plymouth Rock 

to scrounge people’s wishes 

for gas and weed money. 

I stood stoned in front 

of the Pilgrim Maiden 

statue to honor all the women 

who died that first winter. 

My friend told me 

it was actually a woman 

who’d committed suicide 

because she couldn’t bear 

any more of the freezing, 

starving months. 

One fourth of July, 

Megan snuck onto the Mayflower 

by doing her bar routine—

flipped over the barricade 

and onto the deck of the ship. 

I waited on the dock, watching 

for the cops. And when she flopped

back onto land, we ran 

back to her parent’s mini van 

and listened to Galaxie 500 

on full blast the entire car ride home:

I wrote a poem on a dog biscuit, 

but your dog refused to look at it.  

Maybe this is what I want 

to reclaim from the wreckage—

These moments when I contemplated 

all of that history and purity 

and human suffering— 

that I day I trespassed 

on to the hard stone of it, 

and took from it like it owed me.

Bree A. Rolfe writes and teaches in Austin Texas. Her first chapbook Who’s Going to Love the Dying Girl was released in September of 2021 by Unsolicited Press.