by Bill Tremblay
A narrow strip of tar
holds Wardwell Court together,
four buildings with four apartments each,
two triple-deckers in the cul de sac,
set like chess pieces facing each other.
Carol lives on the second floor.
We play together in the dirt
between my triple-decker
and the Light & Power Company fence.
My mother gives us orange popsicles.
I use the stick as a bulldozer to make a road.
My mother asks me, “What are you up to?”
I’m making a road
so my Daddy can find his way home.
Uncle Pete lives with his wife Viola
up the street. He has a garden
surrounded by a fence
where pea vines grow. A photo shows
Carol and me climbing that fence
wearing t-shirts and corduroy overalls.
We look happy to swing
our legs over the top rail.
Later, we trade comic books.
She likes Homer Pigeon.
I like Plastic Man who can stretch himself
so he can be in two places at once.
At thirteen I take a road trip
with my parents across America and watch
forests thin to the land of corn,
mountains to deserts to mountains again
where pioneers stuck in snow eat each other raw.
I tell Carol I want to write.
Why write about life? Why not just live it?
Life and art. Art and life.
The river between.
Behind her question, other questions:
why I would crash her dream—
holy matrimony in the church,
factory jobs, an apartment with a garden fence.
Why isn’t that enough?
Won’t I get lost and forget the road
to come home on?
How to tell her I want to taste the world,
each word, my Eucharist,
and if life’s finally beyond making sense of,
then to know that and love it anyway.
Factory jobs or luminous race tracks
made with popsicle sticks and ink
where there is no home, only a last line
on an elegy for Carol J
and a life that never was
as night fog creeps in on Quincy Bay.