Maria heard the sirens calling her again to her home town by the sea. Another trek the length of the country was in order at the height of the plague years.
Who in their right mind does this? She wonders, and wanders, on her zombie track.
Don’t you blink until you see the whites of Maria’s eyes as she hurtles south through the freezing rain, the billow of viral curtains, the piles of roadkill, and the states where Jesus loves you the most!—it says so on the billboards.
“What is this place?” She asks as if dropped onto Planetoid Sassafras.
“Trump 2024” bumper stickers are spotted with greater frequency, and the farther south she drives the further back she timetrips to the glorious antebellum that never was.
Her heart fractionally congeals the lower the latitude—a crack in her attitude.
She must see family, but images of Odysseus swallowed whole by Charybdis—the furrowed brow, the agonal scream—impinge in an alternate version that unspools on the darkened screen of her mind’s deserted theater.
What fate awaits her, she wonders, as the heat and humidity thicken?
“Despair is the truth. This is what
mother and father know. All hope is lost.
We must return to where it was lost
is we want to find it again.”
— Louise Glück / “A Children’s Story”