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Issue 3 Poetry poetry Uncategorized

The Riddle of Place

Decades ago, autodidact & bloody-minded optimist kerry rawlinson graviated from sunny Zambian skies to solid Canadian soil. Fast-forward: she follows Literature & Art’s Muses, still barefoot. She’s cracked some contests, e.g. Geist, Edinburgh International Flash Fiction Award, Fish Poetry Prize, and features in Lunate, EllipsisZine, Spelk, Tupelo Quarterly, Across the Margin, Painted Pride, Literary Review of Canada, Pedestal, Arc Poetry, amongst others. Visit tumblr: @kerryrawli

As my bum shivers          on a Montreal winter’s
gum-tacky bus-stop bench,        clenched against
sheering sleet               & a disappearing day—
a distinctive stench             slaps me.

The rancid-milk stink         of Zambian beer.
How is it         all the way           here?

With that mere sniff                I’m transported.
Bare feet blister on a baked-dirt street         as I
tip-toe          quick-quick         to the township’s
Indian shop. Such a cave           of intoxication,

dusky nooks & musky scents,         stuff
bowing every shelf,      such relief from the heat—

but I’m here for a sixpence            of sweets.       
When—               sudden in the brazen sun,
with a torched-rubber scorch           of bald tires—
a chibuku truck slops by.       Its hot vomit reek

sears my sinuses.               With every millimeter
of my nine cozy years          of blonde-white dogma,

I’m pre-cast in my belief;         faultless as concrete
& equally dense.              No clue then of a journey
so immense                   it would vault me,
a vastly different creature,           thirty years thence,

clinging to rescue            in the shape of a last-hour
bus. This          is how we’re betrayed       by place.

By secret anchors lashed         deep inside, which no
new harbor’s tide can release               or change.
With my current moorage               frozen fast
in this icy present-tense,          memory is stubbornly

stuck; wedged, axe-like in that hot      alternate plane
I claimed was            “The Past.”
~~                                                      ~~                                                      ~~
chibuku–  Traditional sorghum & maize beer
~~

Decades ago, autodidact & bloody-minded optimist kerry rawlinson graviated from sunny Zambian skies to solid Canadian soil. Fast-forward: she follows Literature & Art’s Muses, still barefoot. She’s cracked some contests, e.g. Geist, Edinburgh International Flash Fiction Award, Fish Poetry Prize, and features in Lunate, EllipsisZine, Spelk, Tupelo Quarterly, Across the Margin, Painted Pride, Literary Review of Canada, Pedestal, Arc Poetry, amongst others. Visit tumblr: @kerryrawli

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