*a march from the interior of a country to the coast; a military retreat
–“Someday I will write a poem in which the main character simply visits Florida.” Sonya Taaffe
We decided we deserved a real
long vacation; we had accumulated
years of winter. We said to ourselves
that our leaves had fallen for the last time.
We got out maps to puzzle over, repair
kits to probe and evaluate for goodness
and purity, flashlights and laser pointers
to anticipate the darkness. We waxed
our Winnebago eloquently, hung curtains
of heirloom newspaper: Russians Land
On Moon! Bigfoot-Elvis Love Child Born
Again! Our insect collection was lifted
from its mothballed coffin, along with
everything else that waited patiently
for the rain to begin its viscid descent.
We sharpened our dull yearnings,
mumbling digressively when children
made phone calls to commemorate
anniversaries: the birth of a delusion,
marriages between heaven and hell,
the death of an adversary. The road ran
south, until we no longer understood
what was being asked of us. Each motel
had smaller towels than the previous
night’s, and much larger cockroaches.
Lizards were extra, but breakfast came
with grits. The sun stopped going down
at sunset. We squinted through the hot
white haze. Even the dogs drank fresh-
squeezed orange juice and wore mirror
sunglasses and a gun on each thigh. Pink
floral-patterned shirts were mandatory;
orchids for extra points. We had only one
hundred miles to go in most directions
to get to a beach with striped towels
and little umbrellas in tropical drinks.
Black fins circled beyond the breakers.
F. J. Bergmann edits poetry for Mobius: The Journal of Social Change (mobiusmagazine.com) and imagines tragedies on or near exoplanets. Work appears in Abyss & Apex, Analog, Asimov’s SF, and elsewhere in the alphabet. A Catalogue of the Further Suns won the 2017 Gold Line Press poetry chapbook contest.
Copyright 2018, F. J. Bergmann