REDEMPTION

 

When the sky turns blue I’m drawn to look beyond it but every time I try, the fog rolls in off the Golden Gate again. And my first love jumps again and is scattered on the gray waves again. And I walk the fire road again to where the dark pines open to hills smeared with red. And I take the turn up at the fork as I always have, because I know the other way leads to where I don’t belong.

 

When the fog rolls away, everything that used to be there is gone. No house on Vallejo Street, no back door whose chain rattled every night at three after the caller I never saw had hung up. No police dog, baring his teeth in the yard. But the story isn’t over because what’s left is no protection against H, who said he loved me then night after night idled his car in my driveway in the dark then knocked my mailbox off its post—it fell like a punched child—and finally broke into my garage and took what he’d wanted all along—not my bicycle but boxes and boxes of my self. I can still see my faces on the backs of those books, burning. He must have enjoyed watching each tiny image curl and turn to ash. He must have warmed his hands over the flames.

 

 

Lola Haskins’ most recent collection of poems, Asylum: Improvisations on John Clare (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019), was featured in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Past honors include the Iowa Poetry Prize, two NEAs, two Florida Book Awards, narrative poetry prizes from Southern Poetry Review and New England Poetry Review, a Florida’s Eden prize for environmental writing, and the Emily Dickinson Award from Poetry Society of America. She serves as Honorary Chancellor of the Florida State Poets Association.

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