1432 South Limestone Street

by Shawn Nacona Stroud
Desert Moon Review
Third Place, August 2016
Judged by Lee Nash


The whoosh of traffic shifts to the ringing silence
of indifference. I surrender it along with reality, step
up from the sidewalk just like as a boy—
inch toward a house now as aged as I am.

Its white paint has flaked
away like the sun-baked skin
of a Marlboro-smoking snowbird. It’s
all meat and bones these days, and yet

I pass the same overgrown aesculus blitzing
our lawn with buckeyes; the descendants
of long-ago squirrels flit across grass
cleverly avoiding its bitter offerings—

they know what poisons are rooted here.
I remember the fear of this plot, how
once I looked out from that window
now blackened as an emptied eye socket.

Through glass I would admire birds with names
I’d never heard of, charcoal angels—
I loved how they could always rise above
this penury. I wonder as I gaze inside

at hollowed spaces of my childhood
if that little boy is peering out; curtains
a cloak from all the rages of those rooms.


This poem effectively captures that strange feeling of disorientation when returning to a place we once knew so well. The stark imagery, for instance "that window / now blackened as an emptied eye socket," "birds with names / I’d never heard of, charcoal angels" and word choices like "bitter" and "poison" suggest an unpacking of a painful past; we watch from the sidelines as the years dissolve and childhood memories return. --Lee Nash

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