Instructions for Making the Break


By Ricki Mandeville

Your suitcase
on the rumpled bed leaks underwear,
bulges with tossed-in shoes.

Grab it, go quickly,
leave the drawers open
like dark mouths saying goodbye.

Let the long gray tongue of highway
lick up miles. Listen to
the rhythmic tic of open road.

Key yourself into a musty little motel room
where you’ll sleep and twitch
to the lull of the interstate

where meadows of faded flowers wilt
across a wall on which the paper curls away,
with water stains beneath—Rorschach shapes

like sunken eyes wide with excitement.
A distant city glimmers past
the last curve down the mountain.

You will be just another stranger
shuffling in step, drinking cheap tequila
in a neon bar, listening

to jazz that milks your eyes dry
and the rattle of wind that swirls leaves
into small tornadoes, a white noise

like the stiff pages of your past
being blown to bits
against the brown foothills.

Previously published in Stone Highway Review

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