She was dreaming of motorcycles again and riding them over and over on a blackened road, the tires all scorched spinning, tugging her to the sound of the ocean states and states away. It was always like that, her tongue a corpse in her mouth, the handlebars pushing against her palms like hard whispers. She was silent, spinning. Trees extended their green leaves, nothing more than hands of ghosts, their branches a tangle of arms and gloom and reach. She was used to the sound of cicadas when the roads narrowed, how their drone exploded around her then lifted, the murmur of the world just like a soft breeze right when you need one. She rode through the Ozarks and their weary bluffs, through sands and cacti and clouds, Dusk and its rum-glow of light. Maps she had memorized were grunge inside her, yellow lines and stitches, other worlds wind and leather-spun. Who needed a watch? Who needed to know what time it was when the whispers of insects and the hum of the road vibrated through you? Who needed anything other than the scent of leather, the jingle of a demon bell? Her father had given her the bell with its notched silver, the winged edges of an angel opening up to catch ghosts of the road. Every ring, every rattle, told her shadowed spirits were veils dropping to blacktop gusting behind her, and she imagined them in her wake, clawing her back tire, willing a soft edge of road to push her down, a skid, a slide. There would be hundreds of them behind her, a swirl of shadow and smoke like hurricane waves curling up to catch her. She imagined their phantom-claws sprinkled with road rash, their cries the sound of chrome crunching against earth. She couldn’t speak back, couldn’t do anything but agree with the methodical hum of nature around her and breathe the throb and tremble of the bike, press it harder against her, let the wind scrape her face, the wind opening and closing like scissors before her. She would ride all the way to the ocean, then turn around and come back, her tires spinning with salt and foam, and she would continue to ride right through the shudder of blossoming sunsets, through each pulsing beat of splintered horizon.
poetry and prose has appeared or is forthcoming in >
and other fine journals. She is the 2011 recipient of the Langston
Hughes Award in Poetry. She is co-editor of Stone
and currently writes reviews for Portal
She lives and writes in Lawrence, KS.