Our Lady of Refuge

I am stranded in gravel and the shrapnel
of forgotten recyclables
30 miles south of
my early heaven.

Like a mallard's neck
caught in the 6-pack rings—
a strange dead city has looped me
captive to pace
blocks of sun-bleached
detritus.

In the spring
I left my apartment
and learned to digest
the flowering garbage.

My insides—
like a lakebed
sunk in tarry muck and the
eellike sways of twisted vegetation—
blossom in bulges of silvery trash
and the internal blemishes
of bruised lilac.

I remember though
kinda
clearly
a banquet
to the north.

We did not pace in abandonment
then.

We wandered and slinked
between the inland lakes
freely
like the beery breaths
of newly
not-children

too sweet-hearted
or enraptured by
each other's raw
stinking summer
alive anatomy

and greased underarm
similitude

to ever be embarrassed.

When I escape my pacing

crawl north through endless layers
of scorched living rooms
and backyards skewered together
with
arrows impaling soccer balls
legs broken
pets maimed and whimpering
in the shadow
of the barbecue—

when I return:

will the Ferris wheel
of the St. Mary's Fair
spin wildly
unmanned
and propelled
by its own centripetal
longing

will the little lakes
flush in whirlpools
sucking toward a past
that
no longer has form?

Let me arrive at the cement shore
of Sylvan Lake
and roll into
it.

And in that motion
through closed eyelids
let me find
that exact afternoon light—

of drawn blinds
in the back bedroom
of my parents' house

that one day

when
so tired from
teeming life
I fell asleep
perfectly
before the sun
dropped
ead.