Because we drove past

Eclipsed, Scott Gathright

Because we drove past
That crack in the highway
Where a glimpse, a bone-clenched
Fistful of pennies, of locked doors,
Pressed hard, thumbed insistently
Into who I thought I am.
Was gone before I could wink
Away flares it left
On my sight, 
Violet, vindictive spots
That will never leave:
That is a promise.
Because that crack
In the highway
Hid waste 
Hid guilt
Hid sin-
Hid ugly
Hid hungry
Hid rotten
Hid crumbled
Hid sick
Hid sickening
Hid unlovable
Hid worthless
(Hid worth-
Hid truth-
Hid homeless.)
Because we the
                                                                                    receivers of huddled masses
                                                                                         representatives of the liberated
Have lied
Have used that crack in the highway
To shuffle bodies
Out of sight
A foreign nation
Cut loose from us like a throbbing 
Sore. like a satellite abandoned,
Left to dust and dimmed stars and
No one to see
 No one will look them in the eyes, 
Much less give them a job.
What makes a person a person?
A tether. 
That something won’t let them
Cease to carry on. Grips their 
Wrist and says 
Kisses their hair and 
Washes them clean and says
                                                  don’t go.
                                                        you deserve 
                                                                         a place. 
And without this?

A person is
No longer. 

Inalienable rights
Are not for aliens
 On their strange moon
Whose axis cracks the highway.
Stranger rules- their
Constitution scratched into
Spaghetti junction,
Keyed into parched concrete,
Graffitied onto passing trains,
Sung onto
Sharpie-inscribed cardboard.
They lay out their
They without 
Shall ever 
Be shackled to:
Moth eaten sleeping bag as mattress
Empty plastic bag as tumbleweed
Grease-stained paper bag as opulence
A nickel, two dimes, and averted eyes as kindness
Poverty as leprosy
Sitting on a park bench as public disruption
Public disruption as a night spent in a holding cell
A night spent in a holding cell as justice
A night spent in a holding cell as a dry bed, 
                                                          don’t complain
Aching, shriveling hunger as 
                                                      go get a job
Raw, bristling sun as 
                                                                           you’ll remember this later
Clothes dragging with rainwater as 
                                                                         we’ve earned our wealth
Crushed cans and napkins thrown by strangers as
                                                                         you don’t deserve more
Drugs and zipties and the inside of a trunk as
                                                                     it happens every day
Unidentified body as
                                                                                      there was nothing we could do
                                                                                there is nothing we can do.

What have we
                                                     the people
To make a person
A person?


About the Author

Marylou Sutherland · Mercer University

Marylou Sutherland (she/they) is a poet and senior at Mercer University, double majoring in psychology and creative writing. Fascinated with the human condition, her poetry tends to draw inspiration from both scientific and mythological sources. Marylou’s work has been published in Atlanta Magazine, Agnes Scott Writers Festival, Mercer University’s literary magazine, The Dulcimer. She won the Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize in 2019. This piece was first published in The Dulcimer.

About the Artist

Scott Gathright · Palo Alto College, San Antonio, TX

Scott Gathright is a photographer based out of San Antonio, TX. He received his Associate of Arts with an emphasis in photography in May 2022 from the Alamo Colleges in San Antonio. His eclipse work has also been showcased in other college publications. Scott continues to focus on his astrophotography in the Texas Hill Country by capturing not only lunar eclipses, but meteor showers, milky way time lapse, and solar eclipses as well. This piece was first featured in plain china in 2023.

No Comments

Leave a Reply