How to Leave
/ After Elizabeth Bishop
– Poetry by Alaina Bainbridge –
I have a piece of turquoise beach glass.
The second rarest color,
It sits collecting dust
between Where the Wild Things Are and two baby shoes,
overlooked by a ticket West. And a sunhat
my Mama gave me. Because the sun shines harder where I’m going,
or so they tell me.
I pass one last pine before boarding a redeye.
A neon man with a snow board
and a record label offers me a Mai Tai,
out here it’s a whole new brain wave.
A new sunrise.
Forgot to say my goodbyes.
But the art of leaving doesn’t really matter, anyways.
Deep in these hills a town shimmers like goldfish scales.
A desert rat lives here with an eye-lashed mannequin and
a car with no doors. He’ll take you where you need to go,
but is always drunk on Cuervo gold. The road is dusty
by the Los Angles aqueduct. Fanta cans get stuck
in the Joshua trees. At night it’s flat and cold. When Jupiter is high
and hungry Coyotes call. I don’t know how, but I kissed a fisherman
from Hialeah, FL who lived in Thailand for a while. He’s walked with me for miles
now. But there are claw marks on his back from someone else he’s trying to forget.
So each night he drinks Navy rum, running his teeth inside my thighs. Holding
my shoulders down to taste my skin salts. And in the morning he smokes
British tobacco, grown in Cambodia, reading Lord of the Flies over and over.
I’ve been walking through parts of that sparking promised land.
Dirt under hunting fingernails. Digging,
always digging. But out there, it’s just a bunch of empty Fanta cans.
God only breathes into a few of them. The rest just get stuck.
And those shoulders you’ve been kissing? They won’t be there tomorrow.
A taxi drops me back here, under the dark pine trees
by the front steps of a little brownstone.
Moving behind homemade curtains, your shadows
and voices pass softly through the open windows, bickering
their way down into the night breeze.
Something about a misplaced dinner
in the freezer.
Cicadas sigh now as I bow my head
under the glowing porchlight.
Lord, how I use it, again and again, to find my way home.
About the Author – Alaina Bainbridge
Alaina Bainbridge lives in Chapel Hill, NC and is currently applying to MFA programs. She graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a minor in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in Cellar Door. She is the author of a stage play, Home Faring, which won the UNC-Chapel Hill New Works Project one-act play contest and was performed in 2018. Alaina published her first novel, As it is in Heaven, in 2013 through McKinnon Press Publishing House. Several of her short stories have also appeared in the collection, Ahead of Our Time, published through McKinnon Press Publishing House. When not writing, Alaina is out rock climbing in the mountains of the South Eastern United States.
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