Amy Trussell

Family Records

Lil was delivered over newsprint
later she became a bike messenger
it was better than butchering deer meat
but not as good as playing a washboard

She traveled west for a year
threw an egg into the ocean for luck
the mounted police shook their heads
as they kicked up sand

Sea on the fringes framed by a tunnel
plenty of saxophone blow to go around
the Farallone islands in metered lighted
harbored leaky drums

On the ocean floor
entombed in cracking cement
radioactivity was a poison
that no one ever picked

She closed the curtains on the Zephyr,
a sleeping compartment shooting east
the rest of the train trailed behind her
like a black wedding dress

Poured off the train steps in velvet
she shoved her glowing hair
into a tortoise shell comb
while the sun pulled away

Tumbleweeds blew up
against barbed wire
while kids shot off M-80's
smuggled in from Mexico

She pivoted towards the Coco Cabana room
of Hotel Congress and said
"Mix me up a person", coughing
up a quarter for the jukebox

A year later a bunch of people ate it
Lizard was the oldest of them
he was twenty-one on the rug
his cat did a double take

"Everyone from North town's dyin' off"
she said, flicking her lighter at a dark moon
they played "Free Bird" at the wake
A boy complained- there wasn't enough beer

Mushrooms between train tracks,
casually purchased firearms
and a shattered mustang
a police blotter full of tragedy

How to figure the ones that lived on?
drinking girl thrown out of a pick-up
while eight months pregnant
she named her baby Rhiannon

The dead and the quick
point their fingers in our dreams
a whole carload survived
driving their car up a tree

She sat suspended in a tire swing
in that black bomber jacket
and blew smoke rings at Saturn
listening to the universe play poker

And the stars shot down
over Gravity Hill
where lovers necked
and box turtles stood still
At dawn the auctioneer
polished his voice and spat
behind furniture of the ancestors
we got a few family records

and we got candles to burn
in the burned down church

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