Licton Springs Review

Between Breath and Voice:
Interlude in Freeway TempoBy Ashton Acker

I know of a park in the northeastern corner of the city.
A small park — overlooking the freeway
At the junction of two roads, leading nowhere
Leading only to a spattering of grass,
Cracked streetlamp, overgrown ivy
Winding through a chain-link backbone.
Accidental almost —
As if seed fell mistakenly upon haphazard ground
And planted a fate of unspoken perseverance
Destined to manifest meaning much grander than it.

This park has no view of the mountain,
Or water,
Or even nice houses…
Graffiti adorns the side of the trash can,
Shouting out declarations of adolescence
In drips of dried spray paint.
There is only one bench and it’s broken.
Broken from years of silent hospitality,
Offering its empathetic limbs to the somnulent and aimless,
The lonesome passer-by who parks his car and stops to smoke a cigarette
The transient bag-man come strolling his cart past in the dead of night…
Looking simply to rest a leg,
An arm…
Pieces of lifelong wandering
Wrapped up in newspaper skins and a steel-woolen countenance.

I come and sit on the part of this bench that isn’t broken
And add my story to the fragments of life
That weave together where the screws have fallen.
My memories pace to the metronomic heartbeat of the freeway.
Its endless pursuit the backdrop
To many a midnight conversation<br /> Between young girls —
Hashing out the meaning of our lives
Between cuss words and laughter.
Every once in a while,
In the quiet pause between breath and voice…
Someone would say something profound.
With furtive hands we smoked our joints,
Clinging to that ephemeral feeling of defiance
And imagined when it would be our turn
To take to that freeway
And drive our sorrows into the background of experience.
Young people are full of sorrow with little experience.

I used to meet a boy here
In the secrecy of the freeway.
We would kiss each other in the dark of the park
With our feet dangling in misplaced grass.
He tapped his foot to the rhythm of the cars
And I felt my heartbeat match his tapping.
It was infectious that freeway tempo…
Creating bars of pulsing cadence
And I think we fell in love to the music of tires upon the pavement.

When I’m alone I come and sit,
Admiring the beauty of the freeway,
Its finite lines containing endless motion
Peaceful in repetition.
I feel safe here, tucked away in the armpit of my city.

Little park beside the freeway, interlude in urban sprawl,
Cradle of broken benches, lullaby of engine sounds
Your cracked pathways give me guidance; I take refuge in your weeds.