Volume 34, Number 4

Red State

It wasn’t so bad I wouldn’t go back.
Yeah, there was an open garage
on the corner, a gaping maw,
empty beer cans like fallen apples and all

the yelling. But it was easy to stay away,
a never-neighbor
with that deadly virus going around.
I kept walking, kept looking at the dog.
We stayed at home.

For the most part, it was easy.
One night when Jade was travelling,
I turned up the music and danced
across the living room, ruby curtains drawn.
I felt free

in private, I felt
an opening truth
that I’d been born into my own kind of fort.

It took years, thirty years for me
to feel my back against that wall.
I thought I was seeing
the same things as everyone else.
I thought I was in touch,
but I’d been dreaming all that time.

Then, I was awake, and cold,
and the neighbor was asking
where my husband was.
How he was going to vote.

—Freesia McKee