by Melissa Anne
The highway ends here where your toes lick the pebbles
at the ellipses of home and away. What will the trees look like
in this next life? Where will the grass grow—between your toes
or underneath the eaves? You’ve imagined the rest of the world
to look like the hazy underbrush of what you know now but what
if the world beyond is too much like the one you left? The scariest thing
is that hope had feathers but someone shot it in mid-air and the carcass
is in the street for you to pick up. In the dead of night you look back
once. You see your initials carved into the oaks that grandstanded your window
for hundreds of years. The G a brave flourish of your tongue
fighting to the center of the lollipop. The plus sign a breathy preteen promise. The crossed-out initials after that no longer matter (there were so many of them,
an alphabet harem on parade, marching through your streets and off the edge of a wink). You see the candle in your parents’ window and someone’s hands,
maybe your mother’s, praying that you stay forever. You look back to the everlasting road ahead. The pockets of your life empty, unburdened.
You have been ripe for what feels like a century and the wind is peeling you apart tonight. One foot is all it takes, princess, the trees whisper.
Behind you your mother prays. Keep that girl in this house forever. I swear
I will love her forever. Don’t let her go do not let her go do not let her go.
You leapfrog north. The highway
Melissa Anne is a Filpina American writer in the DC metro area. Her poetry and prose have been recognized by a number of publications and organizations, including Rust + Moth, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, FreezeRay Poetry, Yuzu Press, The Adroit Journal, and the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers.