July 22, 2016

Alejandro Escudé

GREEN FELT PANTS

Just beyond the entrance to Knott’s Berry Farm
where hundreds congregate to plan what rides to ride
what shows to catch is a group of mentally challenged young people,
most rolled in on wheelchairs, one of them screaming as his caregiver,
a Native American man with the large-eyed face of a saint,
strokes the screamer’s hair and lathers sunscreen on him and holds his hands
and speaks to him in his ear, the screamer could be as young as eighteen
or old as twenty-eight I can’t tell though there’s another intellectually disabled man
standing patiently as the others get ready who is wearing high-cropped green felt pants
and a tidy yellow polo shirt; he appears calm though a little perplexed
and he is strange standing there with his feet perfectly together,
hands in his pockets, waiting for the others in wheelchairs and their caretakers,
the head caregiver a Latin woman clutching a pink cellphone and decidedly in charge
of this group I’m watching who will not yet commit to move further into the park
and I am waiting for my wife and children to finish the line and a ride
on this very crowded day so now I’m feeling a little disturbed watching
those who will need care forever, those that will never have children or a job or a spouse,
who will never even have the satisfaction, as I’ve recently had, of quitting a job
that was much too stressful to find myself at this amusement park
which could serve as a stand-in for life itself, the complex absurdity of it all,
watching these disabled individuals make the most of it
as the one who screams continues to recite his piercing scream,
something between a wolf and small child a wolf-child,
as his beautiful saint-friend rubs his face and leans over
to say something to him I’ll never know and will never have to know.

from Rattle #52, Summer 2016
Tribute to Angelenos

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Alejandro Escudé: “I moved to Los Angeles when I was six years old. Rather, I was brought here by my parents from Argentina. My first memory is Venice Beach. I was scared. As a little kid, I thought the people looked weird and frightening. And they were! But I love Los Angeles. I love it the way tourists love it, which is to say palm trees and movie stars, and I love it the way locals love it, which is to say palm trees and movie stars. And sunsets! Can’t forget about those sunsets.” (website)