We run past the smashed and jagged gravestones. Pebbled tar sticking to our bare feet. We call it conditioning; making the soles of our feet so tough we can walk on any surface without shoes. Laying out on the hood of my father’s car, memorizing the lyrics to Tangerine. How to measure a summer day: skateboards, bikes, train rides to other towns. No one knows where we are going or what we are doing. It’s the quiet car. He slips his hand up my shirt. I play dead. The game is whistle. Go as far as you can before she whistles. It’s 1976, the year of the bicentennial. Jimmy Carter is president and underage drinking in cars is tolerated. Seatbelts are ropes with metal cages that get caught in car doors. Jimmy Page is God, and children know not to come up the basement steps, during an adult party unless the intertwining of branches outside the basement window is scratching an incantation that beckons death, while a cardinal with one wing whispers our name
Mary Lou Buschi’s poems have appeared in Lily Poetry Review, Thimble, Thrush, Cloudbank, among others. Mary Lou’s full-length collection, Awful Baby, was published through Red Paint Hill (2015). Her second full-length collection, Paddock, will be out in 2021 through Lily Poetry Review Books.