What It’s Like When You Escape

Running from Virginia to the other shore
you’re halfway there in Topeka or thereabouts
which is where you stay and serve coffee
in an Edward Hopper truck stop
where it’s always dusk and the interstate
rolls flat out parallel to the sky
straight as a chalked line snapped against a wall
no curves or hills or valleys or stop signs
to slow your progress toward that other shore
should you decide to leave the warm circle of light
that holds you and the coffee and the truck drivers
who smell of work and loneliness and greasy burgers

And let’s say you’re wearing a yellow
dress the color of Kansas corn
and your hair tassels down your back
and you fall in love with every single truck driver
who asks for apple pie because this is America
by God and the apple pie smells like freedom
and the coffee tastes like every dream you ever
had even the ones that turned to ashes
because this is America where dreams
are the slippery currency of existence and
we all know where existence leads in the end

And let’s say you’re imagining that other shore
with its palm trees and drive-ins and suspect blondness
and you spill the coffee and damned if it doesn’t
puddle neatly into the shape of California
which is where America always wants to run
but you with your Kansas-yellow dress
you only managed to escape as far as Topeka
so you tie your apron snug around your waist
and mop up the coffee and cut another slice of pie

Sally Zakariya

Sally Zakariya’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge, Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, Theodate, and Southern Women’s Review. Her poetry has won prizes from Poetry Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. Sally has designed and self-published illustrated alphabet books on food, literature, and anatomy. She has published two chapbooks, Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011) and blogs at http://www.ButDoesItRhyme.com.