Turnpike // Ghost
Wrong morning, late train, I wearing red for you.
A girl-thief. Startled,
the train lurched between two smokestack towns.
The subway, eye of a concrete needle.
Orchids, purple-furred. Trashed along with the orange peels.
Tulip-wearer. I never understood Brooklyn,
how a place could be bigger than it was.
The bartenders ask if I want another before I’ve had a first.
You, frost-eyed, a lake in the pocket of your khakis. I launder,
fold the warm clothes,
find a porch inside them. You call me home. Home.
What an Oklahoman sky is made of:
arrows in red dirt, quilt in the home team’s colors.
Chimes to announce the wind.
My father wanted a suburban lawn. Warm biscuits at Red Lobster.
He knows America as equation to be memorized,
ghost + furniture + eastern turnpikes. Fog as home.
The expressway, congested with commuters,
cars that steer back the way they came. I never did learn to drive.
Even if I wanted to leave, I couldn’t.
from The Twenty-Ninth Year: Poems by Hala Alyan. Copyright © 2019 by Hala Alyan. Used by permission by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.