It starts with rain-flecked windows on the metro north,
Oily-thick river water,
Small black figures fishing between rough weeds and plastic grocery bags.
I pass tan cars and empty
Parking spaces, all lined up.
I stretch my legs onto the seat in front of me
And trees times two
Reflect themselves in the Hudson River,
Proper little cottages: I imagine matching sets of
Porcelain and silverware, steak on Sundays
And mashed potatoes kept warm until the boys come in.
The whole world, sometimes,
Is from New England.
They don’t know what it means
To be from a nowhere
That’s less of a somewhere
Than the nowhere they refer to
In the dining hall,
they laugh over lunches:
Between spoonfuls of baked beans and beef,
“Wait, there are actually more cows than people?
I thought you were joking”
“Stella knows where nowhere is”
Stella where nowhere
Stella nowhere is
The conductor punches my ticket and takes it away.
The golden hour hits on the metro north
The white warehouse
Glenbrook Storage Capital has never looked so beautiful
In this rushed-by countryside,
Green made greener by brilliant greys,
And I remember August:
The seven pm glint of rust on train tracks
The abandoned warehouse down the block from my house
Big picture windows fancied with dust and silky webs—
I’d stare at them, my hand in my father’s, as we passed by on our way
To the Break Espresso for nightly snickerdoodle cookies
And the sun ignited
Weary telephone wires, strung out relics of the past,
And lit up a corridor of antique shops,
Before it dripped below the mountains,
The jagged horizon biting the night.
(The warehouse is a gym now
With industrial ceiling fans and mirrored walls
And a nice student rate, forty-nine dollars a month.
I go there when I’m back home,
Where girls size each other up; I smile at
So and So and feel
Just like a woman.)
The last plane home is the smallest.
It usually leaves from Salt Lake City,
All the way at the end: Terminal F.
Floor-to-Ceiling windows frame the
Dusty mountains and palm-sized planes
Like cigarette butts on the asphalt—
The kind of planes that
Are accompanied by red print on my itinerary,
Note: this is a propeller plane.
Well, how else
Am I supposed to get home?
Flying into the valley
Above the inversion of gossip,
The mountains are speckled with snow, black-eyed Susans,
Flax, lupines, bitterroots.
I’ll go walking in them,
These mountainish hills
Where stalks of wheat lick my ankles
I’ll pretend I’ve reached the sea
And I’ll shout my name
To make sure that here—
So far West
That most think it’s South,
Or Southwest, or Midwest—
That even here
My voice still echoes
I’ll yell like some Marlon Brando
The Hellgate Canyon throws back: I exist.
On Saturday I’ll walk to the farmer’s market
And I’ll see
Grover, the standard poodle at the bike shop
Who will jump, insist that I take him on a walk
Claire and Ben, the donut-selling family I used to work for
12am to 12pm shifts in high school, rolling and glazing in the garage
The Russian girls, young women now, selling seventy-five cent Kecks
Thick, bready, powdered with sugar
The large brass fish on the slope of grass before the river
Too hot for an eager child’s bare legs (they hoist themselves up anyways)
The curb near the railroad station where I sat to eat
My cinnamon roll, larger than my face
And the spot in front of the curb where my father used to stand,
Cowboy boots on cobblestone, his paisley button-up my sticky fingers’ napkin
He’d hoist me up on his shoulders
And hold my feet as I sat tall, surveying
The mosaic of Missoula,
Tevas and birkenstocks and tie-dye and banjos and fresh wildflower bouquets
And fat bags of huckleberries that stained my fingertips and lips and teeth, too
I saw roots of hair and held onto my father’s forehead
Tapping my fingers across his brow to the beat of some Guthrie rendition
And the lilt of accordion, the man who pushed the instrument in and out
and carried on in fake french
Content, knowing no better—
Better not knowing.
The train stops in Harlem.
“This is the train to (beat) Grand Central.
Next stop is (beat) Grand Central.”
I spend the time between stops
Trying to figure out how I’ll manage to
Carry three fat duffel bags through the station.
I stand as the train slowly backs out,
Headed for the yard,
With bags at my feet; more faces than I’ve seen
In my entire state filter out of the cars and towards
A million eyes looking round,
A million voices, heading
Somewhere: Here, somewhere
The city, does no one see me?
Suddenly too shy to shout
Stella enjoys buying five for $1 bananas in New York, but she would prefer to find a similar deal for blueberries. If you know of berry-related promotions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.