6 | Psychopomp Magazine
he breathed out before his lips opened mine like a lock, stealing a secret on the air from my lungs. Between these breaths: the recitation, Trasfabfablenook, given wordless but for a kiss. Now a code and a world shared between us, one that meant everything, or nothing. Our pinkies locked together, a promise, at the top of the Ferris wheel, stopped at the crest overlooking a dark blanket of night, the rolling black of the waterfront, the hot neon of the fair and its strobe lights, the faraway shimmer of dead stars. One moon above: Trasfabfablenook. The rickety bucket below jangled as he reached for me to tuck in beneath his armpit. The smell of his leather jacket, cigarette smoke, and apple shampoo coiled around the waves of his hair, a trail of incense clinging to his Jimi Hendrix shirt, lapping over my jaw like high tide eases into the Belfast Bay inlet. Sweat: clean and salty, like the breeze off the Penobscot waters. Oil and rust from the ride, twining us together in the delicious terror of height from the snug throne of the tippy-top of the Ferris Wheel.
A confection of apples and smoke and leather fold layer upon layer, like steel hammered into a blade, a sword to defend with or to die on, in this kingdom where thieves and lock pickers are royalty, and the feast is a wand of cotton candy that turns both of our tongues blue, blue as he tells me my eyes are, blue as the ocean. I knew that both were gray, but I didn’t care, because in Trasfabfablenook, they are both as blue as my tongue, sweet as the spun sugar magic of a wand that dissolves as I swallow, leaving nothing behind but blue, blue, blue.
A ring made of brass and rhinestones, won by tossing dirty beanbags into the mouth of a painted clown. When he slid it on my finger, the toothless carny laughed, a jester in our court, smelling spicy and rank as the wad of tobacco he spat into a dip cup. All around us, the perfume of sawdust and funnel cakes, onions cooked on flat steel grills, and hot sugar spinning lazy, concentric circles: wands of magic in a rainbow of nighttime colors, bright and beaming as the lights of the Broiler Festival lighting the night in a park that would be empty in the morning. Only the trash left behind would tell a fairy-tale of beers and cigarettes, an echo of neon lights, murmurs of summertime blue. Spent tickets for the Tilt-a-Whirl remember the ballad, sung only in a nonsense word on his New England lips.
The ring turned my finger green. Its stones—also blue—got lost, one by one, in the bathtub, snagging like knots of seaweed as I washed my hair. But for one evening, they glittered, touched by magic. Let’s go for a walk, he whispered, Trasfabfablenook. Across the bay, the dim glow from windows in distant houses, cut into the cliffs: the estates of shipbuilding families who settled these shores. Through winters and storms, they cast nets and traps into cold waters, pulling up the lobsters celebrated by the carnival, summer after summer. The insistent whine of mosquitoes is a kind of music; the blood drawn by black flies, a hunger. From a night long past, I breathe out the magic incantation, and fetch him back into the present:
Tonight we are sixteen, and the world is vast, endless, and blue. I call him back to the