My childhood’s secure within
the borders of faded photographs,
the child me I barely remember,
the one who called his mother sweetheart
because that is what you call
people you love.
The kid who ate air popped popcorn,
heavily layered with sweet butter,
as he sat on the couch, snuggled
with his mom as they watched
Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
The one who smiled, laughed
as he made up impromptu songs
words forgotten once sung,
or dances, not caring who saw
the lack of rhythm in his feet.
The laughter, before the tears
the smiles, before the shame,
before my six-year-old ghost
was forced to lie naked, facedown
staring at Darth Vader’s face
stitched into my bedsheets.
Nathan Tompkins is a writer and photographer living in Portland, Oregon, though their heart will always be in North Idaho. Their work has been included in many publications including North West Words, NonBinary Review, Yellow Chair Review, and Poeming Pigeons. They are the author of two chapbooks Junk Mail of the Heart and The Dog Stops Here.