What a sorry sight, our little
household shoved into a corner of the van,
and how the muscle-bound movers look,
their swing through this backwater for what?
Some loose chairs and a bed, a table better
left by the dumpster, hand-
me-down these, fourth-hand those.
What were we thinking, are we doing?
We do it anyway.
We are swallowed whole
in less than a morning and
that’s it, our little life-in-a-box
stacked expertly in another:
1987, everybody moving
south but us.
North lay the fourteen
hours through the friendly colors
of our Rand-McNally, ascending
to lake-effect snow and evil,
You remember them,
don’t you, dear,
knee-deep and heavy,
dear Opelika, dear Alabama?
On Cox Road, Alabama, 1986
There is the story of the jogger running
along Cox Road as the sun clears some pines,
exposing the day, or possibly settles
in the ragged west, dragging the day under.
It was to be about him, his stride in rhythm
with his breathing, his strong heartbeat, though
now it’s about the stone lodged in his shoe
and the disappeared girl it signals, and
this moment nobody can do anything about:
the still, small body astonishing the roadside weeds
where he balances on one foot, shoe in hand,
so that he will see and ask for every step back,
which cannot be given, not by me, not you
who can only tell the story, nor by the form
obscenely displaying itself. He will reach, deeply,
for the child’s name, any child’s name . . .
Alicia . . . Alexandra . . . Aletris, and fail.
This happens far from anyone, out on Cox Road,
where by now the sun has risen to its own
glorious grief or buried itself in the hills’.
Clark Holtzman lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His poems have appeared in The Antigonish Review, The Lyric, Negative Capability, and River Styx,