MILLERSVILLE by GABRIELLE MARTIN

There comes a point where every small town in Pennsylvania looks the same
but this one is mine:
like dirt stains on the side of a row home on the end
I am ubiquitous, familiar.
My toes catch the dust falling through corners
cracks, I am a heifer, staring wide-eyed at the sun
(cows will won’t eat thistle
until everything else is gone):
I scream in a Kmart Garden Center
until my mother drags me home.

Two Cousin’s Pizza has more than two locations
but they do make their own bread.
“Blue Lives Matter” poster in the window —
The owner tells us the secret of his bread
“It’s Sicily,” proud, pointing to his map
lineage tracing compass lines from one home
to another.
Nostalgia cannot erase
lightning searing through the air,
sundown towns, acceptable limits, liminal distrust.
The bread still tastes like love:
warm and buttery and passed down,
Friday nights
no one feels like cooking
and I am sitting in the parking lot
watching heat drip off a slice.

I can identify ten types of bird by call alone
but the best is always the mockingbird
flash of white on gray on white on gray
a chickadee — no, an imposter
you can convince him to eat from the feeder
if the cardinals don’t give chase.

Porches, people, summers, a breeze:
recipe for childhood memories if baked in the oven on 350
the heat cloys, sticks to your skin, makes it sag a little
add a dash of history and like all children, the urge to flee.


Gabrielle Martin lives in Philadelphia. Originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, much of their formative years were spent shucking corn. Their work has appeared in Flyway Journal of Writing and the Environment, The Machinery Magazine, and Moonchild Magazine. Find them on Twitter @crabbygabie.

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