On the eve of what promises to be
a scorching summer’s day
I do the ceremonial dance of cleansing,
search through my wardrobe,
choose an ensemble of sixty-five percent polyester,
thirty-five percent cotton, made in Myanmar (Burma),
read, again, directions that indicate I must travel west
before going south on Highway 385.
A lazy hush hangs about the morning air.
Birds, my neighbor’s dog and the voice hidden
in the panel of my dashboard greet me.
No, the birds and neighbor’s dog greet me.
The voice’s stern beeping reminds
me to buckle my safety belt.
Click. It’s silenced.
I do not bother to turn on the radio.
Instead, I listen to the rhythmic sound
of tires grabbing, releasing, grabbing, releasing
loose gravel on a freshly paved road.
While I search for the street address
scribbled on a used envelope,
the other half of morning still tries
to plow through a colony of stars caped
underneath a faceless moon.
In between the stars’ yawns and my groans,
my eyes sweep past billboards and broken
white lines stretched along the highway.
Gray closed-mouth mailboxes, equipped
with metal red flags attached to their sides,
sit obediently on government regulated posts.
They wait, hope a blue uniformed chef
will open their mouths, feed them
processed trees sprinkled with ink.
Through the walls of a chain-linked fence,
fingers of tumbleweeds point to a burial ground
for old, injured, deceased vehicles.
The one-eyed van, tireless pick-up,
hoodless car, all share the same tombstone,
Bill Hunter’s Wrecker.
I stop at Kolb’s Meat Market and Grocery,
where the cheeks on the face of the cashier
looked more like bruised tomatoes than cheeks.
It is not the desperation in my eyes that betrays I’m lost.
Rather, the night and I share the same color pigmentation.
I do not blend with trailers, pointed-toe boots and
trails of tobacco drippings in the parking lot.
I pull out the folded envelope, read my scribbled directions.
She listens, intensely, as though I am reading numbers
from a lottery ticket, waiting, wondering
if our numbers are the same.
“You missed it; turn around until you get to
“Bill Hunter’s Wrecker.”
With a gesture of gratitude, I say, “Thanks,”
throw the crumbled envelope on the seat.
Her words guide me to my destination,
back to the dead, and to a place where my
past no longer fits, but my mind tries dully
to squeeze me into the skin of its discomforts.
- Loretta Diane Walker
Published in Recording Library of the Blind and Physically Handicapped Anthology and Word Flirtations