Hilary King


A mystery this big, start at the edges.
Turn bedrooms into offices, bread into
entertainment. Acquire masks, sanitize.
There. That leaves just the big blankness to solve.
So sort time into sorrows. Mother’s Day
without mothers. Summer of going no-
where. No-relief autumn. Nothing new this year.
when your head hurts, rest. History lies in piles
all of time, some slipping from the table,
hidden until the old ways are removed
and missing truths revealed. Someday you will
pick up a piece and try to make it fit.
You’ll see how this solves the whole puzzle,
those midday walks with dog and son.

We eat how we live—
sloppy and selfish, with flags
pulled from the pole and tossed into laps.
We don’t think
of tortillas as away from bread
of butter sauce away from marinara
of udon away from spaghetti
so why does Safeway shelve us so far away
from each other.

In airports all over the world,
girls are preparing to fly.
They travel without the armour
of their mothers. No overstuffed purse,
no jacket with familiar pockets,
no shoes appropriate for departing one place
and arriving in another. No, our daughters
wear t-shirts, leggings, flip flops thin
as the heart of the patriarchy.
I’m not cold,
my daughter insists on a red-eye
and indeed she never shivers or stumbles
as she pulls our baggage behind her.

A sobering fact when it comes to making it in the Bay Area: People living in vehicles is a reality nearly 10,000 people wake up to each and every day, according to recent census data. (NBC Bay Area, 2020)

I imagine you must be
in the middle of a road trip,
that you parked here, by campus,
and hopped out to take a picture of the palm trees.

The way your RV wears dirt, the way
it sags against the curb, exhausted,
I decide it’s a long trip you’ve been on,
a grand adventure,

not at all a drastic measure.
I fill in your details:
cross country journey visiting
baseball fields or national parks,

a pilgrimage,
not an ordeal of layoffs and landlords
and which streets are friendly
and which neighborhoods want you

If I pretend hard enough,
maybe I will never see myself
behind that wheel.

kingBorn and raised in Virginia, Hilary King has lived in Nashville, Atlanta and now the Bay Area of California.

She has been active in the arts for many years. In Atlanta, she created a website and cable show called “Arts in Atlanta” to showcase local artists.

She went on to co-found Atlanta Women in Theatre and the Atlanta Women’s Poetry Collective, and is a member of the Dramatist Guild.

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