Rebel Brown

The Treasurer

The misfit gathering of the folks broken twice,
Queer, and then also addicted: and we ask ourselves,
How did we find this, this mess of our lives,
And what do we do with it?
What do we do with it now?

We circle around, some
Laughing for an hour, others scrunched
Into their scarves, and then the ones
With their papers, their court slips,
They ask for signatures and get out of here.

We tell our secrets: I was queer and
My mother didn’t like it; and I had no place,
So I picked up a bottle and drank so much I
Forgot I had no place, then I forgot I was queer,
Then I forgot everything else.

Some laugh. Others cry. One leaves early.
One seems like he will never leave.
“Hey.” He asks after the end. “I have a favor.”
“Will you be the treasurer?”
He hands me a wad of cash.

“$73, collected the last 3 weeks.
With these bills for the rent, these for the chips.”
He hands me the envelopes.
“No stamp needed,” he shows me. “Mail it in. Will you?”
We hug. He leaves. Locks the door behind us.

I never see him again.
The next gathering, his wide-armed chair stays empty.
Someone else mumbles the opening.
Someone else starts the prayer.
All of us quiet. We watch the door, though he is never late.

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Rebel Brown is a journalist, a storyteller, and a treasurer for several small non-profits.