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.

Twitter: @metalleyho