As I pass the smashed fence at the base of the soft hills, pink at twilight, I always think of you. Of course I do. Even when I look away, it’s there, the shattered two by four and tangled wire mess. If got close, could I trace your journey in the ruptured wood? Find the imprint of our shared memories or your bumper on the oak tree that absorbed your impact? I’ve spent hours pondering how to fix that boundary. Considered calling someone, probably a man who drives a pickup truck and goes by Roy. Roy, how much does it cost, to mend a fence that isn’t mine? How much do I owe? Somewhere between the squeal of tires and crash of metal, my heart left my body and went into yours. Kept you alive long enough to face the truth, which was no more dense or less lethal than the trunk of that tree. Coming home from the hospital, NPR played that show about the epidemic. I almost called in to say hey, that’s me I’m a fentanyl mom too, turns out. If I speed up as I pass the site, I don’t have to see the mess you left behind. But I traded my denial for life. I drive slowly, eating up the damage, picking splinters from my teeth. Don’t misunderstand, I am counting my blessings, like dried dandelions blowing in the wind. I chase them down, saying again and again, thank you, thank you. My boy is alive. For that, I’ll sing praises to heaven, roll in ashes in a sackcloth, send my money to St. Jude, and walk El Camino in bare feet. I’m in your permanent debt, Lord. But first, I need to mend that fence.
About the Author:
JOANELL SERRA is a poet, playwright, novelist and essayist from Northern California, with work published in Eclectica, Blue Lake Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, Manifest-station, Gold Man Review, Write Launch, 1888, Poydras Review and elsewhere. Books include The Vines We Planted (Wido, 2018) and (Her)oics Anthology, a collection of women’s essays about the pandemic (Regal House Publishing, 2021). Her work has won multiple writing contests. She is a student in the Randolph College MFA program.
The design of this slide deck was inspired by the zines I would thumb through in City Lights Bookstore in the early 1990s. It was my first exposure to emerging and marginalized voices in poetry, essays, and short fiction. These works of art combined images and text in creative ways using pre-desktop publishing technology: photos, paper, exacto blades, and glue.
Photo credits: Images (in page order): Julian Hochgesang, Bruno Kelzer, Natalia Kochanski, Ben Tripp, Marcelo Leal, Sophie Louisnard, Saad Chaudhry, and Bianca Stancescu. Unsplash.com