Retribution

by Ellen Stone —

We heard she tried to go out west
and got no further than Salinas.

Her boyfriend’s car broke down.
They camped in a transmission shop

dirt parking lot the first few nights
under a street light’s glare,

the town cop’s wary gaze.
It was July and 95 in Kansas.

Not that I wanted her to sweat
and swelter on vacation, but

I’m sick to death of presumption.
One person gauged over another.

My younger sister thinking I have
something she does not. This one

at the transmission shop is not
my sister. She is the boss of me.

Yet, she is not, a young slip, girl
who has the supervisor’s eye,

fresh out of college. I want her
to drive all the way to Colorado

once she pays her boyfriend’s bill
and find the mountain high too

much to bear. She will flat line
then and turn around. Realize

Iowa, Indiana will be where she
has to go to be redeemed. Not

wanted in the Flint Hills, even
that slight swell enough for her

to gasp, need oxygen to stay alive.
I am the mountain she has yet
to climb, and she’ll need more
than gears and belts to keep

it humming.

Ellen Stone was raised in the Appalachian mountains above the north branch of the Susquehanna River in rural Pennsylvania. She taught public school in Kansas and Michigan for over thirty years. Ellen advises a poetry club at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Passages North, The Collagist, Citron Review, The Museum of Americana, and Fifth Wednesday, among other places. Ellen is the author of The Solid Living World (Michigan Writers’ Cooperative Press, 2013). Her poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.