Poetry & Prose

Some places are just quieter than others

Art by Matilda Peng

Looking backwards, twisted away from Mom hunched over the wheel in stiff embrace, 
Some miles away from Burlington and back to Middlebury—
Fireworks. (Had they planned it all along?)
We squirm in the nighttime humidity only August knows. 
Mom says the country road is scarier than, say, 
Spring Street and the one-ways—at least there someone will find you right away. (But would they be kind?)
Here, night swallows loudly and stars will hardly ever be enough to signal distress. 

                              A fleeting thought: Maybe there is
                                 no distress here for the air is clearer,
                                 and smells of sticky pine

Back at the inn, drank a cup of maple syrup with the shortbread. 
The sticky mass took its time. 
Nobody spoke exceptMarissa sat by the lamp and asked if we could listen to Billie Holiday. 

Marissa sat by the lamp and asked if we could listen to Billie Holiday. 

I was missing something already.
        Something I didn’t want, had been shedding for some time—

       the urgent midnight compulsion to be home already, 
itching of sleep against the cold car window and the smell of the mahogany front door. 

Every moment was morning to me: Leaving Time and Putting on My Coat and Keys in Hand. 

2 South and Let the time pass in traffic because there’s been an accident and nobody can stop staring and worrying. Hands drumming on the dash in the stationary car—

        until I realized once I sloughed it off  I’d have to be exposed, but by then it was already too late. I felt the pine needles pushing into my soft feet. The raw layer of skin glistening in the unfamiliar white sunlight California could never understand in an August like this one.  

I heard the maple settle in me, a rock like crumpled paper. I knew that should I be burned, I couldn’t be sure somebody would find me and worry. 

            Another fleeting thought: oh, 
to cause traffic 

There was nobody else in Vermont.