Mary Ellen Talley
Does it even exist anymore?
I mean that K-Mart parking lot
where I lost my Viet Nam era
engagement ring on the asphalt,
shortly before holding the mic
to call out the men’s clothing department
Blue Light Special. Every weeknight one year
I spent stocking—folding—refolding clothes,
plus avoiding the divorced guy
in the adjacent camera department
who prowled his sweet talk across the aisle.
A co-ed back then, my twenty hours a week
bought gas for driving to the commuter college
that year before the future happened,
que será será. (Fact is, my mother woke me up
at dawn next morning to scour the parking lot
with a flashlight).
Here I am these days,
a grandmother, with that same ring on my finger,
periodically riding a bicycle between downpours,
wearing lime-green rain gear
on paved networks of meandering trails
beneath epiphyte-slung trees in a state park
as sun-glistened leaves shimmer
above my quasi-estuary, golden autumn.
For years, I strategized
hometown exit plans. I rode my bike
all the while knowing how quotidian it is to fall.
Sometimes I consider life a Sentimental Journey,
spend too much time preaching resiliency,
still acting as if I’m the walnut wind up clock
perched upon the rarely tuned piano
in my divided parents’ home.
I check headlamp batteries
before I leave the house, measure distance
on a tachometer, while braking for
whatever will be, will be.
Sometimes I compose blue sky specials
on night lit trail rides.
About the Author
Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have been published in numerous literary journals including Gyroscope, Raven Chronicles, Rat’s Ass Review, and Banshee as well as in several anthologies. A former school-based speech-language pathologist (SLP), she resides in Seattle, WA. Her work has received three Pushcart nominations. A chapbook, “Postcards from the Lilac City” was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.