Afternoon light through the trees with American flag painted on barn

Letter to America by Rebecca Starks

One Poem

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Red State, Blue State

Already beginning to swerve
as I took the icy curve too fast—
the news on the radio taking me back
down south
to summers delivering meals
I wouldn’t eat, navigating the streets
by paper map, scanning the dial
left and right
past that ramped-up out-of-nowhere high-
pitched rant against welfare,
pro-electric chair,
so that I could almost smell
molecules of stale meat and hot Styrofoam
escaping the empty sleeve,
feel the millstone of freedom
swinging on my neck
when to avoid idling at the light
I’d hang a U-ey, cutting the line
for the next run—
                                        I yanked
the wheel back hard, due north,
only to find myself always
a sickening beat behind
the rear of the car, swinging now not
between outrage and mourning but
left and right
sheering from a lawn sign Love is Love
to a mailbox at half-mast
in an arc of fear wide as the country
road and slow as a top-
heavy metronome
over the rink of polished snow.
It was like trying to steer in a mirror.




Rebecca StarksRebecca Starks is the author of the poetry collections Fetch, Muse (Able Muse Press, 2021) and Time Is Always Now (Able Muse Press, 2019); and the recipient of Rattle’s 2018 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor. Her poems and short fiction have appeared in Valparaiso ReviewBaltimore ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewOcean State ReviewTahoma Literary ReviewRattleSlice, and elsewhere. She grew up in Louisville, Kentucky and lives in Richmond, Vermont. 

Header photo by Chad Mahlum, courtesy Shutterstock
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