Half a Town

There is a town in Louisiana that the Pearl River cuts in half and where people try to blend trailers into trees. It is a town of quiet people in little homes with large yards, no fences, and lots of mosquitoes.

A man and a women live on one side of the river. The man and the women are young, rare in the town. They are lonesome creatures, coming together only to breed love of convenience and closeness of quarters.

The man, an enigma to the woman, is distant. Drafts of cold air give him goosebumps and a stiff nature . Born in civilization, a city even, he stands out here, stiffer and a faster walker than most. Though he likes the isolation, he is not acclimated to it yet, he still looks to the other side of his bed when he awakes every morning, expecting a warm body to greet him.

He finds this with the woman for one night only, but will think of it fondly for years. He thinks she is like the stars in a way that he cannot describe and does not tell her this before getting up to leave her house before she rolls over to reach for his hand. He does not know that he has just become a father, he does not know that he has ruined the woman’s isolation, he does not know that she no longer has the privacy of her own body.

The woman is softer, thriving in isolation. Native to the town, trained in quietness. Her home is cozy, even smaller than most, and she surprises herself when she invites the man in after meeting him at the town's only grocery store. She has seen him before, sensed that he did not belong in the town, but felt that he fit nicely within her home and within her body. She surprises herself more, when she rolls over to reach for his hand, that she is saddened to find it missing.  

She realizes that her sense of isolation is gone, but mistakes it as simple longing for the man.

The man, still an enigma, is gone. He moves to the other side of the river. He tells himself that it has nothing to do with the woman, tells himself to just practice aloneness.

The woman, called the mother now, starts to feel heavy and looks for the man in the grocery store again. She continues to mistakenly connect her feelings of attachment with the man instead of the child growing inside her.

She finds herself shopping more, looking not only for that man, but for any man, any person. She has never had this longing before, never felt gravity pulling her towards another person.

Eventually, she realizes what has happened, that she is waiting for a person inside her, that she will never again be alone. That her isolationist years are over, that she will need to buy a crib and learn to change a diaper. She thinks she is happy, and knows that she is scared.

Night Driving


She'd driven through other towns in the dead of night before,
but never her own.

Her town was bigger than she
always envisioned it,
without the crowds
of people,
talking, squawking
like pigeons,
just to forget
conversation later. 
Her old, gold Camry
seemed bigger, too.

The cassette,
that had been stuck
in the player for fifteen years,
was loud enough to wake the dead
or the drunk.
But she didn't care
or notice.

Maybe the voices of the sleeping radio hosts could comfort them.

The town was lit

for no one.
No one was on the roads
because there

life ends
and dreams start
at nine.

The nightlife was limited to her,
the road kill,
the drunks,
and the beggars
begging to no one,
or to God.
Maybe.

Out of the diner window,

the six eyes of the big city rejects watcher her

playing God

of the ditches.

 

Deciding whether to swerv

around the puddles 

and let the dirty water

rest

 

or cause a typhoon

to rush

over the grass levees.

 

She played God in other ways too,

deciding that it wouldn’t be hard 

to rob

the 24 hour convenience store.

 

She wouldn’t take much,

like a true thief,

like a good thief she’d take 

just a twenty, a bottle of hair dye,

and some Chex mix for the road.

 

No one would catch her,

the roadkill can keep a secret.