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Getting Over Lake Charles

This bridge will get me gone.

From the top I can shout

hallelujah and no one


will hear me. If I look

down now I’ll see you

step off a shrimp boat.


How you almost walk on water.

Hands holding buckets of

mud bugs and Bibles.

Your green eyes reflecting

refinery lights lit up

like a chemical Christmas.

You said a Gulf town looks

better at night, like a woman

wears too much makeup.

If I get off this bridge

I’ll go somewhere.

Stop pulling a heavy load

of your Louisiana.

What happens when

men like you leave us?

There’s no one to mow

mazes in our yards.

Your life sounded sweeter

when it was all on AM radio.

Look around this bridge.

How everyone’s head down

hauling for Houston. I’m

pulling over until the storm

stops. Be at the bottom,

smelling like cigarettes

and Old Spice. I need to

keep breathing bayou

men like you.

"Asking" - Ellen Langford 


House Hunting

Before I moved I heard about the holes.

How cars and people fall off the face

of the earth. Even pools can dive deep down.


I bought the house because of the pond behind

the backyard. I wanted something wild behind me.

Bigger than everything else out front.


The first year took a strange shape. Storms ran

me to neighbors’ houses. I saw black racers stalk

dime sized turtles in the dying grass.


The ibis out back were biding better. Going in groups

to not get lost. The curve in their beaks broke all the

hard things on top. The earth wasn’t easy anymore.


Often its banks were blanketed with softshell turtle

trails. They went under every day to get away. But

they could not make a sound to save me.


After a while I wanted to leave Orlando but I was

lilyed like a stem sprung from the muck. The pond

was drying up. The storks arrived to scavenge and

stay alive.  


Then the news said a man in Tampa turned out

of his dream and into the earth. I went under water

once. Inside me something also must have shifted.


The hole in my ground made me happy. I can’t go

that deep again. I need to stay shallow, sun-up and

ready to wrap roots around my wrists.


This pond is still a place with its heart outside. Rain

pounding down on it for days now. I wonder when

we will fill back up again?


Cierra Horton McElroy, Photographer

Lorena Parker Matejowsky is a resident of Central Florida but spent her first thirty years in Texas and is still recovering. Her poetry was selected for the 2018 AWP Intro Journal Prize and Best New Poets 2018 anthology. She is a poetry student in the Creative Writing MFA program at University of Central Florida, where she reads for The Florida Review. She's on the side of green beans being simmered for a real long time with a few pieces of chopped bacon thrown in for good measure. Twitter @LorieMatejowsky

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