Ashley Farmer


The pills that populate the cabinet
start with the end of the alphabet.  Solved for X or Z:
they enumerate our separate glass-eyed sleeps.
The radio instructs us to stay inside: 
lawns have been cancelled,
and now crop-dusters dive low to
eradicate new symptoms from our neighborhood. 
Red dust covers our roofs like rust, but gentle. 
Tire swings drop from the weight and roll. 
The next-door neighbor threatens tree limbs
with a Father’s Day saw. 
The tune: primitive as teeth on wood. 
Beneath his rubber mask,
he’s neither laughing nor exhaling.


Holding our breath: popular as family pastimes go when
just last year, we shared the same last name. 
Now the kids have each chosen their own. 
I grow nostalgic for the years I can’t remember.
Sure, the carpet had bruise-shaped stains from wine,
the children’s sentences rough and unintelligible. 
Sure, annuities grew softer, vacations to the shore a little shorter. 
But those sunsets from our separate hotel rooms? 
The lullaby of offshore drilling as we dreamed of one another?


Sometimes I doze as I drive uphill to work each morning. 
The street a haze of semi-solid shapes that feel familiar:
the sudden blooms of shrubs,
those boxes filled with disappearing letters.
Curb, streetlamp, phone booth, neighbor.
There’s a word for this kind of sleep you
shoulder like a granite stone
until it falls and disappears a year behind you.
Like family albums filled with snow,
or that old joke when less than no one’s in the picture. 
In my fingers the covers become fictionless, less plastic. 
They turn to leather from a once-astonished animal. 





Part of a longer narrative, this piece was inspired by Irvine, California, CNN.com, William Eggleston's Guide, and Vacationland by Ander Monson.