01 Jun Allyson Young
NELL LEAVES SOMETHING IN JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI
in the morning,
and the problem of work,
going to work,
of driving there,
of you and I,
a car wreck,
the mountains outside Albuquerque,
cherry seltzer in green milk glass.
The man who changes the oil in my car today is named James Young, which is also my father’s name. He says to me, you want to know something even wilder? I do.
My father’s name, he says, is also James Young.
I drive to the cheeseburger place and I buy a cheeseburger from a woman with pink hair. In the parking lot, I take a video of myself eating French fries in the blue glow of the trampoline gym across the street. There are three or four people I know who will think this is as funny as I do. I think about sending the video to them. Me alone and French fries and in the distance a tall man and his son jumping up and down and up and down behind a giant pane of sheet-glass. Leaping cats in the fading light. I don’t send the video. I wipe the salt on my jeans.
My street is more crowded than usual when I get home in the rain. It smells like the terrarium room at the zoo in DC, the room with the Kapok trees. The rain stops and I get out.
Three little girls are dangling out a window a few houses down from mine. I look up at them and they look down at me. You’re pretty, the oldest one says. I look at her overcome. I wave. Hello she says, and I walk away.
I call my sister and draw eyes on a sheet of yellow notebook paper. How are you I say. Someone threatened a shooting at school today she says. My heart stops. My heart in six places.
The woman at the cheeseburger place shuts off its lights.
I am a dustbowl tonight. When I was young, I loved a boy named Tommie who moved to Coney Island. I wrote in my diary Tommie Tommie Tommie Tommie Tommie Tommie Tommie’s red red heart. He used to whisper to me in the light of the classroom projector – pretend not to see me at birthday parties.
Once I had a dream he came back for me – to New Jersey on all those trains. He brought me to the big rink with the bumper cars hung loose with Christmas lights – waxed wood floors – my tight white jeans, he holds me by the waist.
The Wonder-wheel gives us a crick in our necks, crooked like rock candy on a stick. Like a syringe in the sand.
At Luna Park, two giant teacups hurl themselves at each other in desperate misalignment. They are like everything, like blood. This is Tommie’s favourite ride.
In the hot street a fat puppy stares at us. There is a dollar bill in its mouth.
Look Tommie says.
I say Tommie.
Yesterday, the world was full of poppies, today I am the dogwood, my hands full of mud.
Ally is a first year MFA candidate at Syracuse University. Her poems have been published in The Texas Poetry Review, The Brooklyn Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook The West and Other Mistakes came out this fall through Dancing Girl Press. She still watches Survivor.