old route 322

& so you lose yourself to dirt roads that coil & weave, a house once yellow now blue, & the split second it takes to drive past the rock garden of stepping stones.  you are swept into the sturdy arms of your little brother who, with age, became more like the older brother your child-self wished to protect you, the doughy limbs of a nephew not-yours who bobs & claps to simple songs, & the willowy arms of your mother, rosy-cheeked with soft curls.

when you were a teenager, lanky & long-limbed, you drove those roads in summertime, your grandfather’s lomography camera in your lap, another like a heavy necklace at your chest.  you discovered a wooden house with broken windows, a rickety porch, & tramped your way through the weeds, scooping flowers into your hands.  you fantasized hiding out in that abandoned house with broken boys you thought would name your pain & heal you, arms wrapped tight around the knees pulled to your chest, the air laced with whispers & lilac-smell.  you shot from the hip.  you never developed the film.

now the road loses you, long-limbed but no longer lanky, the girl settling into a grown-up body with pocked thighs & a soft belly, a grown-up life with forty-hour work weeks & six-packs of malt beer crowding the fridge & bills that clutter the kitchen table.  for an hour you wander, detour, make right turns & scan the brush for the abandoned house.  it never reveals itself to you, & you wonder if you dreamt it, imagined it so often that, in your mind, it became true.  you smell the overgrown summertime grass, the milky-sweet blossoms in your fist, your heart a rabbit’s heart as you walked to the windows to look inside.

it’s like this, the process of acknowledging & grieving.  you hide behind the words something happened to me as a child, hoping someone else will fill the details for you.  all your life you have woven words into ropes that can be followed from beginning to end, but here, now, the threads you grasp are cobwebs that disappear in the light.  you cannot map your way back, not to this narrative, not to that house, & so you wait.  you wait, & you wait, & you keep on waiting, your rabbit heart quiet & still, for the right dusty roads to reveal themselves to you.

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