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