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July 2019 Vol. 15 No. 2

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Elizabeth Alford


Head south and turn left at the stop sign. The house there is manic for dizzying holiday displays: inflatable red chimneys and sleighs packed tight with presents, saccharine pink Valentines, a field’s worth of clovers. Every shade of Easter egg known to humankind. More gruesome fiery jack-o-lanterns than anyone. Turkeys.

the picture
boar moon

The next house over is little more than a driveway without a car to shade it, without the silhouette shadow of a leaning cowboy propped casually next to the garage door.

cold coordinates
saturn’s rings
under the nightstand

He‘s gone now, off to explore other neighborhoods, other garage doors to lean on. The space behind is pale but fading, like the white stripe on a ring-less finger.

black hole
 the scantron
off by one

For months, I mourned him: that inanimate shadow, that silent, mysterious imprint of a man. As much a fixture of my childhood the bridge-shaded koi pond down the street, the white birdbath around the corner, the bent-over-lady-in-bloomers garden ornament two blocks over. The giant poplar, looming but benevolent, a silent guardian.

comet’s trail my wish falls short

The poplar was cut down last week. Ms. Bloomers was rehomed years ago. The birdbath has crumbled to ruins. Each holiday in this neighborhood yields fewer decorations than the one before. Another for-sale sign will rise with the sun.

The Great Exodus has begun. Head south and turn left. You’ll reach the highway in no time.

left behind
the singularness of a shooting star