This poem is a true story. I did in fact find my friend sitting with her dog and cat in a U-Haul truck parked in front of the apartment she’d lived in before she got evicted. She had driven the U-Haul all the way to the mountains of northern California. But she was turned away by her so-called friends in Humboldt County, couldn’t find a place to live up there, and drove all the way back to Long Beach (probably a thousand miles each way). As the poem relates, when I found her that hot July day, I took her home with me. The first thing she did was take a long bath. Then we watched my DVD of Ghost.
The next day another friend and I did what we could to help her. We even took her to a social services agency. But she ran away. First she refused to stay in the motel room they gave her. Then she left her purse in her car and took off for the beach. And then she disappeared. It’s been two decades since I’ve seen her, and I don’t even know if she’s alive anymore. I can’t tell you how sad that makes me.
This is the same woman who was well known in the 1990s as a local psychic. When my first Heisenberg got out and was gone for two days, I phoned her. She went into some inner realm, found my cat, and told him to go home. He obeyed her.
We found her one Friday in July,
lost and living with her dog and her cat
in a 1986 Toyota.
There’s no shade on that street.
No mercy, either.
She said she’d tried living in the U-Haul
when they drove her furniture away.
But the cops found her.
They made her sit on the curb while they searched the truck,
and the neighbors only stared.
So we took her home, let her soak in the bathtub,
fed her, tried to heal her bewilderment,
handed her tissues as she finally let herself cry.
On Monday, we found an agency and took her there for help.
They found her a bed.
Somehow she found her voice.
I used to be someone.
I was a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife.
I did good honest work and earned a good living.
I was . . . where am . . . what is this place?
Where am I? I’m sorry, I keep losing it . . .
Look at me! I’m fifty-eight years old!
This isn’t supposed to happen
when you’re fifty-eight years old!
I’m sorry . . . what am I supposed to do now?
What . . . what is it you want me to do?
She got lost in the complexities of the agency,
got lost out on unremembered streets,
parked her car on a hill by a house
and lost it, too.
It’s just another unfortunate loss to society.
And how will we ever find her again?