On the Road
We will be instructed–maybe in words of another language, maybe by the use of semaphore or Morse Code–but our instructions will come. When they do, we’ll pack our bags and set out. “On our way!” We’ll sing it out as we go. The road is famished for our footsteps. It expects great things from us. We have only to listen to the unfamiliar language, watch for the signals.
Josie has packed her oldest doll, the one missing a lot of hair, the one with its left eye stuck closed. She says the newer ones are stronger, more able to take care of themselves. When we leave, she will lock up the remaining dolls in the pantry. Josie says they can eat and not starve. I ask her what happens if they get fat from all that food. “They won’t,” she says. “They’ll dance between meals.”
Ronette is taking her Codex Sanaiticus.* She wants to read the Bible in its entirety in Greek. She believes in signs and portents, will carry it in a large burlap sack. She wants to see if its instructions are the same as ours, when we are given them. We watch for semaphores, listen to dots and dashes but instructions haven’t arrived yet. When I ask how she learned to read Greek, she says, “I didn’t.”
Marlon says he will bring his nest-making materials: Colored string, bits of gum wrapper, some cloth strips, dry grass and little yellow beads. He says, when we receive our instructions and have gotten to where we’re supposed to be, he will build a nest, marry a little eagle, move to Australia, and raise babies. He watches for instructions like we all do, continues to gather materials.
Christian has packed rice, crackers, dried peas and lima beans. He says he can eat or sow them when we get to our destination. He hoped it will always be daylight on our travels; he hates the dark, the brilliant viscousness of the stars. He says he doesn’t trust the moon. It is, he complains, like an overripe melon–smooth on the outside, rotted on the inside. I tell him to wait for instructions. I assure him that they are coming soon.
The first directives are here! Written on vellum in neon ink. “Breathe,” they say. Then, “Breathe again.”
* Also known as the “Sinai Bible,” the Codex Sanaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, ancient, handwritten copies of a Christian Bible in Greek.
ransacks the stubborn shadows,
finds what was hidden,
and calls her to come
look out the window.
no RSVP accepted,
no dress code,
no hand stamp–
just the matte-finish,
and her remorse…
She is not alone.
Both entities remember her name,
cannot let her go.
Martina Reisz Newberry’s newest collection, Blues for French Roast with Chicory is available from Deerbrook Editions. She is the author of six books. Her work has been widely published in magazines and journals in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Brian, a Media Creative.