Edited by Andrea Spofford | Barry Kitterman | Amy Wright
Love Letter to Vacation
The road gives off steam. All of it
evidence. Take 440, merge east to 24,
split further east onto 65, then south. The trouble
with directions, says my old man, is that
they’re so damn definitive. There’s no longer:
go past the third tallest pine on the left,
take the second right and follow three bends
in the road. At the abandoned papermill,
hang a slight left. No streetnames. None needed.
The naming of streets came only after landmarks,
only after suburbia: the word avenue from “to
approach, to come,” “a way of access,” “how
to belly up to a country-house.” To travel.
You can’t go home. The natural slope, the belly
of a hill, a rusted fence, barbed wire. So much rain.
It’s a religious moment the first time you step
on a northern Wisconsin pine cone barefoot.
The second time: I’ve already had a father,
and while one is alive, you can’t have two. In Louisiana,
they ask me if I want my beer to-go. In styrofoam,
no one knows the difference. I order two more. One way
to measure a bass: how much of your hand
can you fit in its mouth. A creature that fears
the motion of its nest. The image of the valley
is also the image of the universe. I taste my own
body in the ocean’s sand, and I remember pleasure,
as hard and for as long as I can. It’s only June.
Swimming is a perfect silence. We disappear.
Therefore, my beloved, the lake water is cold,
and home is that way: left at the pile of leaves,
left again at the floodplain. This is what we wake
to when we’re next to waking. Look at the moon.
My family and I moved from North Carolina to Tennessee and into a world of confusing adolescent needs and expectation. The prepubescent eleven-year-old girls I left were still trying to decide whether it was time to wear deodorant. Here, in a suburb of Memphis, the girls were already shaving their legs and priming and concealing, risking the tender parts of their necks to create corkscrews that framed their faces.continue reading >