to live or die in a small town

2017-18 Poetry Contest Winner:
Dawn Robinson

to live or die in a small town

a porch exists somewhere, for those that die—it’s the same for those who live
there’s an astronaut suit hanging from the rafters
there’s a man who comes on a motorcycle he’s a kind man he hardly knows you
he leans against a truck to wait for you when school lets out he leaves his wife
you grow up to resemble him he’s your father

you change gender

if you aren’t alive, two fish swim in the space you would have occupied
a girl’s dress ripples, her hair cut short, her shoulder-blades rarely see the sun
the crumbling castle of Nosferatu sun with its shadow of a rooster crowing
an atmosphere surrounds the girl, you become the man who rides the motorcycle
she calls you an archetype she’s an intelligent girl who becomes a woman
the astronaut suit weighs a ton it hangs suspended from the porch rafters
you become suspended between genders

the suit seems to broadcast, as if Earth is simply a place one goes to and from
rather than being where a life transpires

you become the paper-boy you hurl a newspaper from the handlebars of a bike
up onto the porch
the porch is pushed by two college students wearing neutral tones
they break the wood of it down, they place its disassembled shards into a mini-van
you leave off being the paper-boy
you stand, dressed as a bride in a sweet, dirt clearing in a forest
the fish sketch all of this with their tails
a song by The Eagles covers your face like powder so that your skin suggests
a cowboy’s booze bender communion with a jack-rabbit in the headlights of
post-colonial healing and native silver dowries
the astronaut booms toward you with anvil feet and pulls your earthly face to his
empty, translucent, bullet-proof dome, his helmet above his shoulders
you dance with him as if he is the only man on earth. you are both
happy to have found life and death in a small town

Designer by Michael Mau