Afterglow

by Elodie Ackerman
The Town
First Place, October 2007
Judged by E. Ethelbert Miller


We crossed the country
bathed in beatitudes
the transmission leaking oil
clear across the country
toward the Orange glow hovering
on the Western horizon,
waiting to eat us alive.

My bridal veil flowed
out the window,
my virginity the hood ornament
on the old blue Mercury
as we tried marriage
on for size, rolling
the flavor on our tongues
like SweetTarts,
cheap but tasty.

As quickly as we rushed
into that foul folly,
we hesitated
to bring it to a close.

Eventually, you collapsed
Under the weight of it all,
and I, hardened by your
rage and drama, signed the papers
as quickly as I did the parchment
that got us into this mess
in the first place.

It’s time to leave
the Golden Promise, retrace
that oily trail to its start,
where trees still stand after
three-hundred years and family
welcomes you home, no matter what
you’ve done or where you’ve gone
or who you’ve become.

But it’s never quite behind you,
that Orange glow. No matter
what comes next,
it’s always there, waiting
to remind you that no matter
how wise they think you are,
how worldly or sophisticated,
you’re still a damned fool. Just old now,
and not so pretty anymore.



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