Carol L. Park

< Back to Issue Four


Being an Us


I’ve pledged to screw lids tight, but when you grasp
the relish jar on top, it falls, glass shatters.
Pickle chunks slime like algae, filling channels
of the grout. Vinegar fumes your face.

I want to change.
Resolves don’t stick nor your advice.
“Close the fridge’s double doors so edges meet,”

but your words don’t cling
nor my Post-its to the plastic.
You find its doors ajar one morning.
You’re as sour as the milk.
Our economies diverge.

To you my complaints seem mere nebulous speculation.
“How can you tell I love our children more than you?”

You conceive the corporal—not fragility of the heart.
What you gave me fell, shattered, and slid afar.
Can we retrieve our tender talk and touch?
Divulging needs or shame,
eager to remove a sweetheart’s splinter?


Puzzled. Pushing
towards thirty years together, sheltered
by one roof—can this work?

I’m a Circle reaching outside boundaries
of your Square. I stretch and flex a changing ring
of rough brown rope, my lasso.

You’re a given. No bending—
your lines don’t overlap,
but precisely meet, then halt.

Were I to draw my rope close round you
to hold you tight within coarse fibers,
would you grow to hate me?

Yet, if I slip the knot and order
my own soft borders to fit
within your set angles, collapse would follow.


With logic as motto and Spock your idol,
you hid in a cave from boyhood on,
secreted among stalagmites and bats.
In cryptograms and coding you crave solutions.

You rewire our kitchen,
yet our hearts spark little.
I pine for a match to kindle flame.
When my rage burst out, you burrowed in.

I took off solo to fit poles together, raise a tent,
lit a Coleman stove, weeping as I ate.

Though I can’t find the path,
mid dappled light and shadow, the damp silence,
mid dirt, ferns and soft yet rough redwood bark,
somehow trust in someone higher
surmounts our hurt. Contrition
and love combine. Hope re-kindles.

I toss my lasso and pull you in.
We see a counselor and, in her office,
I am sheltered, in here I can weep.
Though your horns again rip my flesh,
within her calm, for once you can see it.

The lantern’s circle also shines
on what I hid from myself.
Behind my hurt, hides envy.
Behind my rage, fear and quaking.
How my need to call the shots,
sent you running to a secret spot.

We not You, I learn to say,
and to hear your panic in a medley of tones—
pitches I once passed over.

Our smiles loosen, our words tug close,
yet we keep our spelunking gloves and ropes.
Exploring untold caves and bridging chasms
fuels our mission, fires hope.

Carol loves exploring geographies, including the SF Bay Area, wilderness, and Asian mazes. Her fiction has appeared in The East Bay Review, The Harpoon Review, Birdland Journal, Shark Reef, Antarctica Journal and the upcoming Red Wheelbarrow. The anthologies Irrational Fears and Fault Zone: Strike Shift include her stories. Her MFA comes from Seattle Pacific University.

Photo by Pixabay on

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