Little Big Econ
The sand sits hot, a biting white steam that burns
Huxley’s paws and we quicken our strides
to relieve him, to reach the shrinking shadows
of nearby cabbage palms and magnolia trees.
It is quiet quiet quiet when we are the only souls
on the trailhead. We have no maps.
I’ve been here before, once,
and I half-remember this wraithlike wasteland
of skeleton trees, their limbs breaking and bending
in all directions. No sanctuary from the sun.
I see you ahead of me and I see your visceral
misery—to be in silence except for the silky crunching
of cigarette sand under our boots and Huxley’s panting.
You reach this lime-green, white steam tropic desert,
nothing like the lush canopies and limestone caves of Oxford.
We cross under oaks and pines and we breathe again.
The mountain bike trails seem promising,
and we meet a skinny stream of the Little Econ.
The pup baptizes himself and then soothes
his callused paws beneath the sterling current.
I wonder if our parents felt this way
when they were lost but found
in new ways on the wings of hard work
and sacrifice sacrifice. This forest demands.
The departure from worry leaves us
uneasy, and it is so quiet quiet quiet
when we are alone but also in love and attempting
to afford securities even in this wilderness.
An Almost Ex-lover
We sit on a slanting sidewalk, pressed
against cold cast iron chairs. I used to like
the stubble on your face and neck.
There is laughter from a table close by—
a cluster of teenage girls gawking
at a ballet of begging homeless men.
A mother shrieks, mortified
that her cherub, with snot dripping
down over his pouting lips,
wiped his nose all over her Prada coat.
In the distance, a careless homemaker
receives a parking ticket from a bicycle cop
with a mullet. In the midst
of all that, you are smoking a clove cigarette,
hiding beneath a pair of black sunglasses.
In between the drags, your chapped lips quiver.
You know the sting of your hands.
You know my terrain.
But how could you know
that while people are bustling
around downtown Ocala,
I’m preparing all the ways
I might tell you I don’t love you anymore.
Time begins and ends with Velcro
shoes. Mine were sparkly blue
and glowed when I pranced
down hallways to water fountains
or lined up in tactical formations
for Recess War.
In first grade Spanish class,
the Fire Chief’s son kept whispering baño
and I couldn’t stop giggling.
Urine trickled through my corduroy pants
and pattered onto a spotted floor tile.
Mom later asked my teacher if peeing was punishable.
I’ll pee right now,
and what could you do?
She’s a child.
Mom taught there before she met
Dad in the teacher’s lounge
and braved another marriage.
I peed until their blighting divorce,
when all laughter was lye
on unsullied skin.
I sunk into an oversized, brown leather
chair as a mousy woman disclosed
how well I was handling change.
I longed to sink farther, to disappear into memory
of parents fighting, surviving together
because I was a child.
Originally from the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, Brianne Manning is a freelance writer, marketing strategist, and poetry alumna of University of Central Florida’s Creative Writing MFA program. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Blue Monday Review, The Galway Review, Yellow Chair Review, Crab Fat Magazine, After Happy Hour Review, and elsewhere. She is a compulsive pen collector and antique enthusiast living in Orlando with her fiancé, two cats, dog, and multitudes of dust bunnies. Find her at transientexistence.wordpress.com.