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
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
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