“Road Map” – Elisabeth Zachary

…we must learn to bear the pleasures as we have borne the pains.        
Nikki Giovanni

Stories tied tightly in bags of sacred sorrow,
Tangled paper tucked away like treasures but forgotten.
I think of California sadly,
Three children born so quickly during a hot, dry season,
In a place so far from home.
Cowering in daylight dark apartments,
Winking through window cracks,
To glimpse silhouetted strangers beckoning at the door
Nursing the fear of a three day notice to pay or quit
Breathing the shame of night after night alone.
I think of those days sadly,
California sunshine sparkling against the windshield, brightly beating
On back seat babies tucked into blanket envelopes,
Sleeping gently, eyes closed sweetly,
Hands curled into delicate fist balls against sweet, fresh faces.
Driving unknown city streets in Glendale or Big Bear or Pacoima.
Unfriendly places far from familiar faces,
Places to write bad checks for diapers,
Places to get well, to breathe better air.
Places chosen with the hope that redemption resided somewhere near,
Somewhere mapped with a compass rose.
Radio loud, smoking with the windows down,
Cigarette ash burning sharp red against window wind.
Wind whistling lullabies through the car.
Humming in my ear,
Blowing against my face, across my skin
Swaddling me sweetly to remind me I am often lost
But find my way somehow somewhere.
What of other places that came before?
Those other whispered, childhood sorrows,
Of looking into windows from winding roads,
From Mosheim to Woodmore, across Route 66,
All the way to California and back again.
Precious coddled sorrow memories,
Stacked carefully against the wall with pictures, letters, scribbled late night journals,
Holding tightly to close little treasures of hurt and ache,
Each wrapped in strings of delicate sorrow,
Lullabies singing loss, brave battles lost,
Sweet, still sorrow held near.


2 thoughts on ““Road Map” – Elisabeth Zachary

  1. This poem sends me places much like the writer implies to breathe and take in solitude and sanctuary between point A and B.The terse verse draws vivid scenes skimming across one’s mind.

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