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Laura Slaathaug Apr 2019
Melted snow and dusty streets.

You and I had to stop.

We’re drawn to places

of power, like roadside

attractions. No matter how

cheap or quaint they seem,

they’re free of cliches.

Here it was, a shrine to

Route 66--even if it was

just a ***** painted banner

on a faded tan brick

gas station wall:


BY I-40 ROUTE 66


OCTOBER 13, 1984.”

You parked the rented car

on broken pavement.

You had to stop and take a

picture under the sign and

between the parked Sequoia

and mud-covered pickups.

You don’t know to

pray, but you know how

to pay attention,

how to halt and idle

in the exhaust of diesel fuel.

Really, what else should you

have done? Doesn’t everything

disappear too soon? What door

will you open now that your

sacred window is closing?
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2019
1.  Your cornflower blue eyes crinkled and laughing, sometimes flashing like the storms you love to chase

2. Your strawberry blond mop that smelled nothing like fruit but instead of sweat and grime, clinging to your brow when you removed that Pepsi baseball cap

3. Easter egg hunts on your birthday, like plastic flowers in melted snow and you up trees and on the roof of grandma's garage

4. Rare compromises that built tree forts or wound up the tire swing until it bounced and whirled its passenger like a spinning top

5. When everything you did, I wanted to do too--whether it was rescuing the princess or flying an X-wing

6. Diddy and Dixie Kong headlocked and tangled in armpits, wrestling for the Super Nintendo controller or for the remote for the VCR until Donkey had enough and made them both watch Barney

7. The laughter of you and your friends from the basement or slipping around the corner, back when I said “Me too” and meant “include me”

8. Games of war crouched behind the couches when the only war you dreamt about was the one in Narnia

9. The cliff in Hawaii over the smoking volcanic ocean water and Mom screaming for you to come down

10. When you push me, like the dominoes you used to line up and watch devotedly as they toppled over, one after the other because sometimes general incivility is the very essence of love.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2019
When you have candles on your cake, light them.
When you have confetti in your pockets, throw them.
When the clouds in your painted blue skies turn to storms,
reframe the canvas.
When you can't take another step, take one more
because soon you'll be able to rest.
And don't forget--to breathe.
Your hands will ache, and your bones will tire.
You will walk away, but you must always
turn back and try again.
This is how you see another sunrise.
This is how your steps become dancing
and your silence humming.
This is how you keep going.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2019
He may praise me like

a breeze on a sunny day.

He may shriek as he

gets carried away.

He may slam the front door

and rattle the windows.

He may get swept up in a storm

of his own making,

but I've learned to stand in

the eye of the storm and

not be touched,

when to board the windows

and doors and wait in

the basement,

when to hop in my car and roll the windows down

and feel the wind in my fingers,

and when to look for that moment

when a child's kite cartwheels

through the air

and a proud father looks on
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2019
The only time the streets are paved
with gold is when the sun rises--
poor Dennis feels rich
old Marlys feels young
everything slow seems worth waiting for.
The birds fly north and greet the sky.
Over the streets the sun pours
like honey from the jar.
It's another day, and you doubted
you'd make it this far.
When the darkness feels too heavy,
your hands too empty,
don't forget that joy
comes in the morning.
Laura Slaathaug Jan 2019
it’s the color of the canyon walls that she was taking her grandma to see. It’s the color of her grandma’s flannel in her almost packed suitcase. It’s the Valentines hanging on the hospital walls a couple days too late. When her one-year-old son sits on her lap at Great Grandma’s bedside, it’s the color of her face when she can’t help smiling. When her son places a bracelet in Great Grandma’s palm, it’s the color of the beads with the most sparkle. When she cries at her grandma’s funeral, it’s the color of her eyes. When she doesn’t have time to buy another dress, it is the color of the one that fits. When her hand falls on her belly, it’s the pulse of her unborn child’s heart. It’s the color that demands she halt and pay attention, like the power she holds over people when she speaks. It’s not the color that lets you go easy.
Laura Slaathaug May 2018
she’s reminiscing,
a young woman,
who already feels old.
The weight of her heart
hunches her shoulders
and adds girth to her frame.
She wonders if life would be easier
if she was skinnier
because she looks at photos and
recalls a waif with big eyes
and bigger hair
nineteen and lovestruck,
his hand in hers
sneaking into abandoned houses,
and lying in golden fields,
the cool summer nights of
bicycle rides in the dark.
How much easier it was fall in
and out of love when you felt
invincible and didn’t know it–
when you’re more than the
woman cloaked in black,
like the heart she’s always
joked about
and drenched in
wine and smoke–
if she could be but the night
and swallow the sun, moon,
the stars, and all
that ever was–
but no, she’s a whisper
one word slipping into silence.
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