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The Kinloch Rivers Memorial Prize

Brian Slusher

Never Land: List

Never Land

Never believe Cal Obijeski when he whispers
he’s got a secret formula for growing
wings, and he produces a blue bottle that looks
a lot like a perfume atomizer, but he claims
contains his great-great grandpa’s recipe stolen
from Gypsies and containing essence of
sparrow and the crushed petals of the
Icarus flower grown only in the caves of
Sicily. Never help him force the lock on
the shed and lend a hand carrying a stolen
ladder to his garage roof, then climb until
you’re standing on the black shingles, staring
down at the snaking track of dead grass where
Cal’s father had left the hose all summer. Never
allow him to spritz your back with that
concoction smelling of roses drunk on
cotton candy liquor and never accept his claim
the wings will only unfurl when you leap or
take completely to heart his axiom "Doubters
never fly," so much so you still say it to
yourself in times of stress. Never let him
sign your cast and draw an eagle. And never
regret feeling grateful he did or forget to keep
flapping your wings.

Never Land: Text
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