by Rustin Larson

Somehow, hamburgers were Scottish. Henry's dressed
their drink cups in green and red plaid, and their
burger wrappers too. There was a place called Sandy's
in the city where my aunt lived. Same schtick, but I digress.
Called by the green of spring, my mother and father
would sometimes take me to Henry's for supper,
and I'd have one of their burgers with minced onion,
and pickle slices, and ketchup. I'd eat a bag
of fries, and drink an orangeade, and climb
on the 1920s fire engine the Lions placed
on the playground of the sylvan park across
the street. I'd sit in the driver's seat
and spin the wheel. There was another
wheel in back for the ladder section to turn
imaginary corners. I'd spin that wheel,
1920s Des Moines burning to the ground,
an accompaniment of Keystone cops in the periphery
brandishing billy clubs. This was a celebration
for surviving a school year of bronchitis
and evil teachers. I took solace in my senses:
salt, savor, sweet orange. I poured my consciousness
into the interiors of small metal cars.
I played in the dirt under the sun. I scratched
strange symbols into the dust for friends to answer,
our secret code, connection in a world
we could not control.

How many places are called Homestead?
Pear trees, apple, cherry, apricot: mountains
of pies every November. The ghost people
would take us for walks by the limestone
hills near the river. We would smell honeysuckle
and hear the mourning doves cry in the mist.

It occurs to me, I am not one to complain: I'm awake,
the sky is grey, a steady breeze comes from the north.
It is our mini ice age. The monks lock the cellar.
The starlings fuss in the eaves. Someone's love
of the bard brought them here.

And now I find my young daughter has left
a drawing of a woman in a pink dress.
The woman's name is Qi. Her arms are sticks
and yet gracefully balance her sliding dance.
Her stick legs flow elegantly down to her charcoal
colored shoes. Her hair curves in flips, simple
yet flowing. She smiles. Her dress is electric
with scribbles of pink.

There was a mountain or a bluff that overlooked
the confluence and the town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
The overlook might have actually been in Maryland.
The stone was reddish in color. My daughter, if this
is a memory and not a dream, scootched out on the stone's edge.
Although our view was essentially the same,
she insisted the experience was better there
on the edge of death (which, of course, needs little encouragement).
The view was nice, the sky was blue, you could see
the armory where, essentially, the war began.
In this memory or this dream I will imagine
a buzzard circling above the two rivers, the glitter
of the water, ashes drifting in the wind. We walked
back down the path and drove
and shared a meal afterwards in Harpers Ferry: hamburgers,
fried potatoes, drinks as orange as the sun.

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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