Watching the Solar Eclipse Without My Ex-Lover

Beth Gordon

           Scorched retinas are the least of our concerns. Prairie dogs will abandon their villages. Women,
mid-pedicure, will find they have no toenails. Tumors will shrink or expand as determined by morning prayers, the reliability of each particular deity. Quintuplet births in taxi-cabs will surprise no one. Bullets will stop and turn mid-flight, returning to their owners.

           Unusual ghosts are snoring in the rooms below me, despite my tumbleweed talismans, my ritual
sacrifices of fire ants, I can feel you watching me through your cracked crystal ball as wind becomes coal fog, as oxygen is displaced by moon seeds, as orphaned children begin to fly as effortlessly as new dust, as my skin turns inside out to find the missing sun.

Road Trip Redux

Beth Gordon

In the last ten days of our three-month journey, I confess, all I wanted was to get home, no reason really, what a shame (maybe

a sin) that I couldn’t enjoy Memphis, that I wanted to skip Graceland, that I fell asleep in a room of blues musicians, that I didn’t

have it in me to learn another name, to fall in love with another German tourist roaming the camp grounds of Crater Lake

in search of American whiskey, that I’d had my fill of cockroaches in Savannah, fleas in High Point, scorpions in Flagstaff,

professional fire-eaters in Las Vegas and heroin addicts on Hollywood Boulevard selling outdated maps with stars for every celebrity

overdose, that I couldn’t stuff my suitcase with another piece of authentic pottery, museum gift shop postcard or found art

made by the woman in Durango who carried recyclable grocery bags in her car to collect fresh road kill and sell it to girls like us.

I couldn’t write another journal entry about the old woman in Mobile who offered us tea, Moravian cookies and a view 

of her basement parlor, no energy for Tasmanian travelers who kissed us in New Orleans elevators, I could not foresee how we would always

regret that we didn’t walk through tall grass to touch the half-buried Cadillacs or go jello wrestling with Bonnie in Amarillo, TX, could not

hold in my brain another historical fact: the way women’s makeup was made from wax, the difference between wrought and cast

iron, the multiple theories as to why the inhabitants of Mesa Verde evacuated their cliff dwellings 900 years ago, the blood-

stained marble where ambitious politicians and weary citizens were gunned down in every state capital building that we saw.

I’m sorry that I was longing for my bed, would never have guessed that my favorite future memory would be fishing with your grandpa,

learning to drive his tractor between the rows of pecan trees, studying the grooves around his eyes, worn deep from five decades

of tears for his flax-haired daughter, sorry that I had no voice for witty conversation with second cousins of friends who gave us

their only sofa and unlimited space on their crumb-colored floor, and that as I fell asleep I heard the 23 grandfather clocks set to chime

out-of-sync every 15 minutes one long strange night in a pig farmer’s house, and dreamt for the 87th night in a row, the words

of your grandmother’s farewell note, cautioning us to lock our doors, cover our ankles, look out for hitchhikers, newlyweds, damsels

in distress, all serial killers in disguise, who would rape us, murder us and mutilate our bodies, leaving us unfit for an open casket funeral.


about the writer


Beth Gordon is a writer who has been landlocked in St. Louis, Missouri for 16 years but dreams of oceans, daily.  Her work has recently appeared in Into the Void, Quail Bell,Calamus Journal, By&By, Five:2:One, Barzakh, and others. She can be found on Twitter @bethgordonpoet.