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 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
dead grass and scattered trees. An alarm
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.
eyes I witness a happily ever after stitched
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.
“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.