Stuck in a Stack of Furniture
by Patrick Lee Marshall

When my wife showed me pictures
shot for her photography class
and that old truck slid into view
on her computer screen,
my mind skipped back to 1952,
twenty-two moves ago

I was nearly eight years old.
My family was moving
from Munday, Texas, to Rosenberg, Texas.

On an International truck flatbed,
furniture stacked around the perimeter,
tarps tied down to cover everything,
in a cave in the middle of all our belongings,
with a tunnel leading to the back to enter or escape,
my sister and I would ride nearly 450 miles—
for two and a half days and two nights—
bouncing to a new unwanted home
far away from memories and friends.
This exciting, “camping out” experience,
became a nightmare we feared would never end.
We could not play any of our board games.
Pieces bounced at potholes and joints in the highway.
After the first few laughs, we grew frustrated
when the jumping checkers would crown themselves.
I accidentally kicked one of my boots off the truck
when I tried to see where we were during a rainstorm.
My sister threw up and we rode in the stink for hours
inside a sweltering igloo in the hot Texas sun.
We slept half awake, half scared, at Texas roadside parks.
We ate bologna and bread without mayo or mustard
at every meal, washing it down with warm water.
We quickly grew tired of the trip and each other,
relieved when Dad finally said we were there,
happy to be there, no longer caring where “there” was.

We wonder if parents today tried something like that
and were stopped by the highway patrol, would they
get in serious trouble for moving in an unreasonable
and unsafe manner?

PHOTO: The author (right) and his sister after arrival in Rosenberg, Texas, with the family’s International flatbed truck to the far right.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The move from Munday to Rosenberg, Texas, was the tenth move for my sister and me. We moved seven or eight more times before the family started moving apart.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick Lee Marshall began learning poetry after joining the Denton Poets’ Assembly (DPA) in 2011. He currently serves as a Councilor for the Poetry Society of Texas, V.P. of DPA, and V.P. of the Keller Writers’ Association. His poetry and business articles have been published in over 35 books, anthologies, business journals, and other media, including Encore: Prize Poems of the NFSPS, A Galaxy of Verse, Blue Hole Magazine, Merging Visions, Inkwell Echoes, Hunger for Peace, Silver Birch Press, NCR Healthcare Hotline, Georgia Law Review, and Texas Poetry Calendar. He lives in Keller, Texas, with his wife and three cats.