Aleah Weltha


confusing to a child who is growing up,
too soon,
to watch vodka bottles, plastic and loaded,
holstered under front seats,
drawn and fired down deity throats,
sinful libations. i watched them carefully,
studying the line of their necks between shots,
almost graceful as that curve was ironed flat
to ease the flow, chins toward the sky and
all eyes off the road.
i remember the cracked dashboard,
dust caked in the nooks and crannies,
baked in years of sun. 
i found comfort in the familiar smell of heat and dust.
we were a white van licking pavement,
slipping along the voluptuous curves of the highway,
seductive arches along some asphalt back that
carried the burden honestly,
almost demure.

had i been alone in the back it might have been different.
precariously perched between boxes that slid
into the turns i might have enjoyed the irony,
the perilous disregard.
but worry creased into the brow of innocence
is a sharp tattoo on a future self
and they weren't our mother.
women entrusted all the same,
sitters on a saturday outing. a quick lesson in trust.
a quick lesson in adult recreation.
foolish, perhaps, for mother to obligate friends
to my sister and i. these friends who had lost
maternal obligations at the horizon line
or years ago when first boyfriends slipped
a hard pint under their nervous skirts,
when life became complicated
and amnesia became an ally.
i understood even if mom didn't.

and when one of the pair, properly sedated,
toppled out into shin deep mud
in her hippie bare feet to offer direction,
to wobble in front of us windmilling arms
in some sloppy dance,
i inhaled.
and when the van slid gracefully over her,
tangling her waist length hair over surprised
and matted eyes, i looked away,
intent instead on that mud
beside me, beyond my open door.

a baby turtle scaled the slimy earth mountain,
a healthy green and brown,
rotting leaves in autumn, terrified.
instinct pounded mantras of away away away
between rapidly firing synapses,
a premature birth.
any other day i would have scooped up the terrapin,
studied the rings on the hard belly,
argued calm with feral disregard in silver reptilian eyes.
on this day i watched two women,
lopsided and eager,
pull each other around in green and brown mud.

holding my sister's tiny hand
i pressed my back into faded upholstery
and waited as the sun, who had had enough,
who flaunted his power to choose,
gave it up in the west.
this too shall pass,
an exhale into the coming night.
i pointed to the turtle for her amusement,
she didn't seem to care.
i closed my eyes.

Date of Birth: May 23, 1979
Location: Springfield, Missouri
Occupation: Assist developmentally disabled adults by day, library clerk by night

Current | Previous    Submit | Editors    Join | Donate    Links | Contact

Sundress Publications