The Student Literary Journal of Northern Vermont University

Ode to the Valley


a quiet street its mouth
overflowing with leaves no longer summer soft
attempts to speak it tells me
about the man who was murdered for love and
insurance money just five houses down the house
has already been resold and the new owners
hung up Christmas lights the street tells me
about the man who lives to our left who has lived there
for decades and always has a golden retriever is this strength
replacing her when she passes or is that cowardice
performing her immortality to himself the street does not tell me
about the angry hungry men hiding in plain sight I find this out
from a registry online who knew
my neighborhood was respite for so many dangerous creatures
who took what they wanted
without asking am I
as bad as they are reaching blindly not with my hands but
with everything else the street also tells me
how much it hurts to shed skin every year how I have become accustomed but the pain
still echoes a cathedral bloom
in my body just look at the cells crunching beneath your feet
as you walk half an hour to buy milk this street
puts time and distance and money
into perspective this street tells me
honey you are too old for so much of this
and too young for rest of it why does your
back hurt when you stand up straight it is supposed
to electrify you like
the telephone wires this is the only part of town
that really sees storms the valley
traps both cold and heat the rest of the city
shuns the weather but my neighborhood
she swallows it she insists the greenery needs watering even
as it drowns the street tells me
she loves the valley the way the stars lurk here undetected the way
the walls of the town sink in and you cannot hide that thing you want so badly the way
she could be anywhere in America and yet
she could only be here