The Route Seven years later on my way home from lunch I'm wandering in old thoughts like tunes I dream to. So, say I'm half noticing a woman in Rea & Derrick parking lot shoving a shopping bag into the back seat of her car, her face buckled in on itself. Maybe that trips me up. Or it could be the one cluster of notes I can't identify for a second that turns out to be a song we used to make up to. But something happens and I've turned the wrong way and am heading down the street my other life played itself out on. I can't turn back. Unblinking, I watch the old trees no time can change and the holly I planted, three bushes now trees, one for each clumsy little helper, all of us pricked at least once before we patted in the mulch. Or maybe it's just registering: my friend in the hospital, explaining the tumor that has grown in her brain, how she has to turn it into an enemy. Mafia man, I suggest, joke about the cliché fedora, the gold tooth, I want her to imagine a shoot-out, her hand on the trigger. Gun him down, I say. Later she imitates the hospital p.a., a thick sweet voice: Admitting conditions-BLACK. The code for no more beds. After three weeks she knows the jargon. RED TOP means fire. It's easier to move the patients along the yellow lines to exits if no one suspects. More benign inventions to keep the terror away. But I'm safely in my car driving past and nothing in that house with the stonewall can harm me. I hum in relief, like when I'm afraid of something I can't put my finger on but there's a sting and I know without looking that I'm bleeding and somehow it's important to retrace the route my mind traveled to put me there.
Copyright © 1992 Karen Blomain
At the end of a dry season small itches, the air smeared with pollen and the strum of wings against the screen. Stars so far away even those shooting past seem like wishes useless as thirst. What can come next? Not knowing that, who can know what to wish for. Suddenly in the night, rain on the flat roof, misunderstood at first÷a simple pause amid the banter of tree frogs. What was background becomes plot. Forty-five. Somehow a thrill when the reader in Peckville flips the cards gravely after my cut looks up: You have till eight-nine. Days later his voice registers like pictures of planets we see only seven years after transmission, images that might have burned off long ago. Such luminance we take on faith. And I think÷halfway, imagining the end of light: the eyes of children, blurry summer afternoons the way love shines us, the stars, without knowing it, I must have counted on all along. Copyright © 1992 Karen Blomain
Borrowed Light is a publication of Nightshade Press, Roy Zarucchi, editor, P.O. Box 76, Troy, Maine 04987.
Ms Blomain is the author of several collections of poetry, including The Slap and Black Diamond. She is also editor of the distinguished collection, COALSEAM: Poems from the Anthracite Region. Ms Blomain teaches at Kutztown University.