Trailer Park Weather; Heading West on I-80
By: Steven Monblatt
Trailer Park Weather
The heat was a blister, swelling, smooth, trailer park weather
premonitory, over-ripe, for those like Selina
who heard the silence beneath the crying baby
and tinkling ice in Faron's glass of gin.
“Baby, something wrong with the kid? Seems she been crying
for most of an hour. See if you can settle her down,
I'm going to the package store, it's near to closing
and we're out of beer.”
“It's not an hour Baby, but you go on. I'll rock her some until she stops.
It's just the heat, been building all day
seems it should be breaking soon. Maybe it'll rain.”
The screen door double bounce bounced shut
as Selina scooped up her crying child
and tried to rock her as best she could
perched on the edge of her lumpy day bed
holding and cooing like a mother owl.
“Now now, now now, this heat will pass
and we'll get out from under
won't live forever in this heap, Faron's gonna get a job
and I'll go back to school in a while.
If only this heat will pass.”
The break when it came was not what she expected. Billy,
Faron's buddy from, she really didn't know from where,
banging on the door “Hey Sel, yo Sel, my man Faron
he around? Got something to show him, where he at?”
and into the trailer, unbidden, unopposed
“Faron's down at the package store.
Be back when he gets here. But what you got there,
coming around in the middle of this heat?
Careful now, don't wake my child, she's just dropped off to sleep.”
Regarding from the corner of her eye
the lumpy brown kraft paper bag she knew contained an asp,
but light, so light to keep it caged.
“It's no big thing, just let it lie, Faron,”
and torn between willing him to come and praying him away.
“It's cool, Selina, never you mind, Faron and me
we need to discuss some plans we made, a job we're gonna do,
get us out of this place, this heat,
get your baby out too, I think,
nothing to fret on,
I'll just wait for Faron to come back.”
“Just go,” she thought, but did not say, instead
“What job you planning Billy? My man needs work to get us moving.
Just what line you in these days?”
“Don't you worry, Sel, this work's for Faron, Faron and me
and when we're done we'll celebrate,
go out dancing, get some ribs and beer.”
Selina's insides shriveled with the effort to stay loose,
and in the heat she held her baby to her for her warmth.
“That'll be Faron,” she said,
as footsteps crunched along the path
and Billy jumped up, moving out the door,
catching Faron on his way.
They spoke a welling murmurous conversation,
and Faron, shiny-eyed, handed her the beer,
“Ice them for me will you Babe?
Me and Billy's going for a ride.
We won't be long but don't wait up,
I think the weather's gonna break.”
Selina without moving knew,
the vortex had touched down deep within her
seeing, submissive, her life imploding,
the weather breaking, the trailer park weather
and she alone and nowhere to hide.
Heading West on I-80
Driving through an arid place
I-80 west of Salt Lake
You see in the distance, just over the horizon
a shimmering, magical, Oz-like city
beckoning you forward.
as so many before you knew,
that this is only a mirage
an enticing fantasy urging you on.
“Keep moving,” you tell yourself,
“got to get to where you're going,
out here there's nothing but dust and void.”
But if you open your window
and shift your head for just a second
you can smell the sage
or spot a Brewers Sparrow hunting grubs
and high up, a hawk on patrol.
But the fantasy beckons
the road stretches out before you
and you need to reach your destination
at the end of that blacktop ribbon.
Steven Monblatt is a retired diplomat fetched up near the western edge of the continent. Although he never stopped writing during his long career in the diplomatic service, he spent the past 25 years trapped in the ice above the Arctic Circle. He has recently thawed, another unfortunate side effect of global warming, and has returned to his dusty writing table. The American Journal of Poetry published his poem, Schrodinger's Cat, in their January issue. Prior to that, his last published work was in 1994, in El Nuevo Diario, Managua, in Spanish translation by Daisy Zamora.