“Along The Edges” – Claire Highsmith

She is a jack-o-lantern halfway through November,
Plastic flamingos flock to her yard in droves
For the neighbor’s cat to scream love songs to.
Our noses are neon bright signs in the cold,
unwrapped ceramic santa figurines at our feet, antiques
Rich with the smell of a century’s worth of attic dust.
As her voice bubbled over in joy, I thought of our first kiss,
And the taste of the tomato soup she had for lunch.
Her smile has the crunch of a sidewalk in fall
Even though Betty Andrews in middle school made fun of her teeth.
Two ugly people met in Port Orchard,
Except they weren’t ugly, or only a little bit.
I never wanted to be an astronaut
Too awake to be President, hiding aliens in the telephone lines,
Making triangles with our hands
Why else would gas have gone up 50 cents in a day?
“If you assume everything will be terrible, you’re always in for a nice surprise”
On the broken highway of foggy heads and restless nights
We drunk like royalty from paper cups
And sold her gnomes at the pawn shop for a slightly used tux.
Lil’ Emmy ran away and found herself a new home,
Tuesday we’ll leave this shattered, noisy town
For the silent city in its captured light, things will be different;
We’ll find eternity at the end of the ticker tape parade.
“Aller Anfang ist schwer!” the neighbor’s cat sung
But we know endings are harder still.
The wind doesn’t cover its mouth when it sneezes
And the trees whisper insults about our shoes,
On a nearby stoop with silent, knowing joy
A jack-o-lantern grins as we walk by