THE FAN (a free verse poem by Al Sturgeon)
The memory arrived unprompted as a tender gift.
I had been sunburned yet again.
It was night as I lay in bed, miserable,
motionless, and cursing myself
for an apparent inability to learn a lesson.
I was a teenager, alone in that tiny bedroom,
alone with my restless imagination, naked
as a modest kid in a modest family could get
to ease the pain, limbs sprayed like a
hopeless summer attempt at a snow angel.
My mother had tried her best to provide
some lotion as a remedy but to no avail.
I would simply be miserable until I wasn’t;
there was nothing more to do but listen to
the silent sound of time passing.
But squeezed into the corner was an oscillating fan.
It stood watch through the night, keeping me company,
marking time with its fluttering whir, rhythmically sending
a breeze both soothing and not across my blistered skin—
a welcomed sensation in solitary confinement.
The rhythm led to a mindless world of nothingness.
No thought of the terrible fate of dressing in the morning.
No self-loathing. Just staring into dark eyelids with
my sweet parents next door; at peace, listening, awaiting
the consistent and predictable relief from the oscillating fan.
The memory arrived out of nowhere.
For a brief moment I was a kid again
with a mom and a dad who would answer
if I simply called their names. It was so real
that I could hear the whirring fan and feel the gentle breeze.