sugimoto

Transcontinental
by Janet Malotky

The pop-top Luv Bus, heater deceased just shy of the Mason-Dixon Line, banked the freeway’s high final curve, spooling out like a grim prognosis, and framed a foreground cemetery with its cap the snaggled skyline: a massive snowy dome, shaken grey on grey and suddenly peopled with the falling lives of strangers. Blinking hard but leaking, she gripped the wheel and drove down.

Drove down to the promised street, heaped with sooty snow and toothed with cars, wedging in near the looming brownstone, car door letting slip the last breath of Berkeley
into Brooklyn’s winter grip. With one cat under each arm she took the stairs.

Took the stairs to welcome’s heavy door swung wide to wall-to-wall grey, a jaw agape. There on the living room floor, lacking the impulse to orient or root, a sleeping bag and suitcase, rumpled open.

In the slot kitchen, fluorescent and crumb-less, the mortified refrigerator diligently chilled a single jar of peanut butter — foil intact —  and a clean, empty skillet. The bedroom was an empty brown box, nothing more. “Here is your home,” breathed the corners, and so also sighed the bitter marble fireplace, carpeted in and impossible.

PHOTO: “Brooklyn Bridge” by Hiroshi Sugimoto (2001).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A home is a place in which it is possible to let the fringes of one’s self run loose. During a move, belongings are not the only things that get packed. In this poem I recall my 20-something shrink-wrapped self, encountering a new and alien shell, not yet inhabited with my own ghost.

Malotkyportrait

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janet Malotky lives a life submersed in language, by day as a speech/language pathologist, and in the evening as a poet. She is especially interested in the mysteries at the intersection of language, science, and the inner human experience. Several of her poems will be published in upcoming issues of journals, including Pure Slush and Dulcet Quarterly.