Landscape with American Dream by Janine Joseph

Putting down the beets, you got to thinking my life had dead-ended
            and were serious, and I agreed—But first I need capers

                        and whatever’s past the pimentos, I said and scanned
the list. I needed the lemon glaze, the stuff I craved down the ethnic lane

            and still I had to sing of how I walked a thousand hot miles
                        because my mom was Catholic and pressed the white blouse, the blue

jumper, and we were good people and good people lent their good
            cars to those in more need. It was like the distance from here

                        to the Philippines, I nodded. I MapQuested it once. And they—
my brothers—were all eyes on their Game Boys, dodging potholes,

            snake holes, and ant hills from St. Francis to who-knows-where we lived.
                        We walked so much my dad every night kneaded the stiff backs

of our shoes so they wouldn’t peel scallops on our heels when we walked
            lesson after lesson without turning an ankle. What wrecks we were! What

                        expert wrecks burning down those sun-spun streets. Now look
how I muscle my stack of avocadoes and hearts—see how I coast and carve

            and fault my rootless cart. See how I course my arm to say go
                        and go. Do you wait for me? Do you circle the lot’s quiet loop

while I lift into a run like a dog dead and slipped from her leash?
            Do you brake? Do you idle? Do you whir your arm from an aisle

                        like a table saw saying come, come? I’ve a line to beat and no
double coupons so do you strike up your shoes? Do you barehand

            your grief and pump its slack lap after lap after me? Come bred
                        roadster, come American galloper. Come bark this breath out with me.


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