Story, Before Her Collection

            For Dr. Daryl Dance

 

Story sings in the fields.

   Story dreams in a wooden bed.

      Story sits on tree stumps.

         Story whispers.

            Story worships at weathered houses of the Lord.

               Story plays guitar.

                  Story runs alongside gravel roads.

                     Story eats at a table in the back.

                        Story hushes her baby.

                           Story hums during a train ride to the city.

                              Story cooks supper in the kitchen after a hard day’s work.

                                 Story cries at her mother’s death.

                                    Story brushes dirt from her hands and arms.

                                       Story smiles to herself.

Story asks for pencil and paper.

 

 

My Kindred, I Say—

I hold your fragile voice in a vicious sea

of deniers, wrap

your discarded skin around me, cloak

 

my guilty hands

in ill-fitting gloves. The air you breathed

            whispers to me

 

I am alone, spills forth your secrets, sings

            sirens across

dead grass and scattered trees. An alarm

 

            clock buzzes

in the distance and I turn toward the noise

            but see nothing

 

but blank walls. Your story lies buried

            in boxes. Empty

tables are polished with your anguish. By accident

 

            I have assumed

your mantle, but I see my duty to you is clear.

            With unsuspected

 

eyes I witness a happily ever after stitched

            from discards.

New timelines unfurl—I stand quiet because

 

            I am an interloper,

yet I am also a turncoat for you as I walk among

            these fresh ruins,

 

taking everything in. I stand in sight of where

            your world slipped

past mine and I am reaching back across time

 

            and saying, Steady,

steady. I’ve got you. Take my hand. Take

             my hand. Steady.

 

 

 

Urban Sprawl

 

“We have three Wal-Marts” might

not be the most flattering description,

in retrospect. We’re making

 

our way back to civilization in a car

held together by duct tape and sarcasm.

Every mile we pass another housing

 

project scarred into the farmland.


Split-levels sit in neat rows


like grave sites, holding dreams

 

of rock stars, ballerinas, astronauts,


student council presidents. We speed

past thin frozen ambitions with ease.


 

I stick my hand out the window,

into the spring of conformist possibility,

reaching for their regrets.

 

 

© Josette Torres

 

Bio:  Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has previously appeared in Ayris, The New Verse News, and 16 Blocks, and is forthcoming in Eunoia Review. She is the Writer in Residence at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg, Virginia.