Rachel Calderone

In the Region

white collar nuzzled against blue
we blend into cookie-cut four bedrooms
and breathe in smoke and soot.
we’re never settled in our fields, roaming roundabouts and cul-de-sacs
we speed northward, toward the lake shore
by the South Shore, we move.
in the Region, busy Chicago pours over our stateline
Lake Shore Drive turns into 41
a pipeline, we are the root to supposed reprieve
but in Little Chicago, in Indiana, in the Region
we never stop. so we’ll keep going no matter where we move.

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Thoughts from Brickshire 202

These popcorn ceilings and haphazardly painted beige walls will one day be ash.
These rooms once filled with life will no longer have condensation on the windows, and those who pass by will see the boards that cover them, the paint that chips and falls like snow, the brown grass against the growing goosegrass.
Their imposed expiration date will draw visitors.
With them, they’ll bring explosives, dynamite, compact track loaders, dozers, draglines to throw against the 296 apartments that used to house us off Merrillville Rd. What once was built by men, to be used by men, to make money for men no longer will no longer make money for men, so the men will bring them down.
The last fireworks these rooms will shelter from will celebrate their end.
For now, my friends and I meet in the warmth, enclosed in washed-out walls and matted carpets. I don’t share my visions of this very room on the second-floor vanishing into thin air as the drywall goes up in smoke. Instead, I sip on a vodka seltzer, letting the walls blur around me. I focus on taking down my boyfriend in King of Tokyo rather than the ceilings falling down upon me.

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The Smaller Memories

When I was six, I lived in Evergreen Park.
The houses in Gary look like the ones
From my southside neighborhood,
But the lights are out,
I am not welcome. Yet,
I long to live somewhere like there,
Not St. John, Indiana, with its
Large cookie cutter blocks of homes,
Spotless, 2 ½ inch tall green grass
For what feels like miles, compared
To the crunchy, browning front yards just over
The line to suburbia. Give me smaller
Lawns, homes rubbing up against one another
Under the drone of airplanes overhead.
Bring me back to wrought iron stoops
Near train tracks. My mother drank coffee
And dragged Misty menthols perched
on the porch while I danced
under the sprinkler in the middle of Richmond Ave.

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Feedback

Restless, in my nightgown, I run outside and shout into my backyard pond. I hold my hands to my ears while my screams and the water’s surface meet. The vibrations dribble out. My words float along the waves, fading and warping with the tides. Crashing against the shore, my words, now mumbles, make their way to my neighbor’s windowpanes; they slide through an uncaulked edge; they rustle the curtains. Lights flicker around the pond, one house by one; the whispers woke them. These words aren’t my own-- they breakout anew. When the words come back to me, I no longer recognize them. They speak to me, and it is like a foreign language. Louder and louder, their voices form a reservoir around me as I shake my head still in my hands. They grow heavier, weighing on my shoulders. I fall on my bare knees, sliding on the drowned grass. I close my eyes, plug my ears, but I can still hear the roars of my words that are no longer my own. They come in on the waves of my neighbors’ new ripples. Their ripples rise to flood my backyard. My nightgown is soaked up to my waist, and the water climbs higher, surrounding me as I drown centered in their eye.

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Horizon

Sand and sky meet
And I am pulled--
I long to reach further.
I feel trapped, controlled,
but slowly creep toward
The edge of sights unfamiliar.
Crossing the line onto strange
Land, I linger-- longing to learn.
For it’s only moments until I will
Ebb away again.

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Rachel Calderone

©Alchemy & Elegy