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Chatty Cathy and Humpty Dumpty sit with me

in the backseat of our car, as we hop-scotch from 

Stuckeys,         to Texacos,      to Howard Johnsons.

Every-so-often Mother breaks out a new coloring book

or a connect-the-dots puzzle to keep me busy.

I rub the arrowhead my father found on the 

banks of the Potomac, as the scenery shifts 

from dense forests to tumble weeds. 

On the third day, we enter the Land of Enchantment, 

and I ride shotgun,      a scout for my father.

We are in Indian country! Westward Ho! 

We drive straight into my Lone Ranger imagination.

I pinch cigarettes from my parents. 

Ready to face natives and gunslingers, 

I will trade tobacco for provisions, 


safe passage. Our journey ends along sand -trapped 

fairways. The new red brick house, the barren landscape,

the childless neighborhood,     all wrong. 

We live out of suitcases in empty rooms.  

Dad reports for duty and mother busies herself with details -

telephone hook-ups, garbage service, filling the refrigerator -

while I spend those first days alone 

in my bedroom pulling Cathy’s string over and over again,

“Do you like my new dress?”             “Let’s play games!”

I can’t love her like I should.

The Bekins truck shows up a week later.

Brown skinned men with names like Jesus and Orlando

unload the upright piano, the antique wash basin. 


Mother finds the boxes marked “kitchen,”

unpacks the highball glasses,

and starts our new life out west.

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