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Packing for a Road Trip

by SR Young

Let’s leave behind those amethyst geodes,
       the ones which held the wax candles illuminating
                   our mouths and open bodies on nights the power cut out


that wet April. Let’s leave behind the hand shovel
       and the watering pail we misplaced every summer:
                   there will be few gardens where we’re headed. I’ll leave


the withered celosia my mother always forgot
       to uproot before the first snow, and those red-ash
                   rocks I used to crush ants and draw hopscotch squares


as a simpler version of myself. You’ll leave that key lime
       crassula shrub and its refusal to die—spaceship bulbs
                   of photosynthesis in the dirt—and the plastic hydrangeas,


their wistful magenta hues glowing in the white
       shadow of snow outlining their petals. I’m leaving Autumn
                   behind: orange-vanilla soda and honey-glazed turkey legs


at Vala’s Pumpkin Patch. You’re leaving recipes for pot roast,
       corned beef hash, and curried mussels, anything too close
                   to comfort food. We will leave behind The Complete John Keats


and Tina Turner’s “The Best,” as anything attempting
       to unspool a language of love cannot cross this Rubicon.
                   But perhaps we will carry a wish for Chicago, those streets


of water-swallow, and one more for the cobblestone alleyways
       of Le Panier, Marseille, a distant home. I will carry a pocketful
                   of lint for kindling, a small jar of charcoal dust as a reminder,


and you will hum John Coltrane saxophone solos, eyes
       tilted toward the stars. What will we find when we get there?
                   Will there be second story windows to open on dewy mornings,


or is this sentimentality all that we will have to remember
       what we’ve left behind? I made space in my pack for testimony,
                   the ceramic turtle flute my father bought in a Puerto Vallarta


gift shop. When I hold it in my palms, I picture him browsing
       a shelf of amethyst geodes, tiny joys of earth that may one day
                   be worth cherishing in a world that has doused all its flames.


SR Young is a queer, genderfluid poet, currently residing in Idaho, where they study poetry in the University of Idaho's MFA program. Their work appears in, multiple issues of 13th Floor Magazine, The Oneota Review, and elsewhere. In addition to reading for Pleiades and the Cow Creek Chapbook Prize, they are the current Reviews and Interviews Editor for Fugue Journal. Ilya Kaminsky once called them smart, and they like to pretend this didn't mean a lot to them.

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