Untitled by Lorien Carsey

On the greyhound,
thighs, arms and hips rub
like crayons in a cardboard box,
and we will arrive smudged and striped.
Each time the bus coughs us out into the starry night,
we all make the same, silent vow to learn to fly.
Back in the seats, our carved pumpkin heads loll,
and the driver is silent while he steers our bodies and bags.

In front of me, however,
a woman is riveted, machine-like in her attention
to what disappears outside.
What disappears?
Torso twisted to the window,
she sweeps her eyes against the ashy towns
and does not mistake the pecan groves
with their rows of rangy, uplifted arms,
or the long frown of a porch sagging at each side
for something to see,
until she is pronged by some detail:
a figure staring out of a doorway,
or frozen garbage poking like shark fins
from an icy, roadside puddle.
Holding it in her vision, her head steadily pulls to the right
until released, then it swings back to the left
with an inaudible click,
until caught again. Shifting register,
she fills her hungry pages of memory
and I cannot discern what category of Southern poverty
attracts this careful study.

She doesn’t see, under low clouds,
the dark edges of a distant airplane begin to vibrate,
undulating as if underwater, then separate;
the nose, wings, and long body pull apart
and shatter into a flock of long-necked geese.
The transformation that occurred too slowly,
of one into many.
Her eyes run like a saturated red ribbon,
and the tiny hammers of things punch their names
into her memory like a typewriter.

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