Bio Note: I write poetry, edit fiction, tutor English, play the banjo, raise my son and make my husband laugh in Tampa, Florida. My poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Tar River Poetry and New Ohio Review. My first collection, Notes from the Girl Cave, was recently published by Kelsay Books.
When I squint at the cluster of torsos pinned 200 feet overhead, I imagine my husband and son dangling in halters in the front row, with loop tracking, giraffes, boulevards and city roofs spread out to the limits of their peripheral vision. I will belt-locks clamped; I’m chanting “safe, safe, safe” under my breath as suspension cuts to plummet-and-scream, a sharp breeze and the smell of popcorn and the hard zoom of wheels in grooves and the whoosh as riders plunge through a pond and beyond, soaking gangs of gigglers on the sidelines. Shouts fade, metal scaffolding clinks and holds for a second before a new load of shriekers drops from the pinnacle. I listen to steel bars shudder and let wild joy doppler toward me and away, toward me and away, a recurring tsunami that levels kid calls, wrapper crunkles, school-group Spanish, sunscreen squirts, coin jangles and guitar riffs, until even laws of gravity and Murphy recede into ambient theme-park patter.
If you reach the valley of wildflowers, don’t touch the killer Queen Anne’s lace. All major east-west roads have gone south, but the north still offers several must-see sites, open Tuesday twelve to four. Caution: the High Street bookstore is now stocked with fish logos and soul snatchers. Tropical travelers, steer clear of mosquitos with encephalitic intent and be advised that as of May, coastal towns will no longer exist. In fact, the whole scenic route’s a mess. We recommend you avoid tourist traps, stick to that cool path through the woods, keep an eye on the white blazes, make fires, scribble on maps.
©2020 Sarah Carleton
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