Bob and Jan
Their trailer has been moved three times.
Not because the property lines have shifted,
but because it was never right to begin with,
and the new neighbours have grown weary
of their rambling ways.
“I’ve been recovering all year,” she says
around the cigarette with the impossibly long ash—
an ash that refuses to obey anyone’s laws.
“From what?” you ask without bothering
to apologize for being invasive.
“Well, the mastectomy,” she croaks, fluttering the hem
of her shapeless Cinderella T, which is draped over a floppy boob and
whatever the opposite of a boob is.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t notice,” you say, which might make her happy
so long as she doesn’t know it’s because her body, shaped like a bag of leaves,
draws the eye about as much as an actual bag of leaves.
You sit on your country porch to read, and Bon Jovi competes to be heard
over the endless unnecessary words hollered by her latest beau.
No matter the weather or the hour,
there he is in the front lawn in a hoodie and shorts,
PBR or MGD resting cozy in a chalky fist that
might have worked Up North and
might have never worked at all.
They offer to mow your lawn, to give you a beer,
to walk the dog if you’re gone all day.
They never leave except to fill jerry cans
or to restock the fridge in the back.
They’d offer anything they had to get you to say hi
and it’s this that keeps you from hating them.
“I’m so glad you moved in,” Jan says
as you’re emptying the trunk.
“The other people were so rude.”
Your chance to establish boundaries dissolves
like the smile on the too-nice teacher
turning a September cheek.
You pony up a response, and your mom’s warning to
never feed a stray comes roaring back
as Bob revs an unseen quad and hollers
“Who wants to go for a ride?”
Walking into the trailer park,
it’s easy to become unstuck
from the rest of the world.
The people are slower here,
moving like street performers
dipped in brass.
There’s the man with the pot belly
watering the driveway. The oil stains
aren’t moving and the cracks need filling.
It’s 2pm and he’s not at work, but there’s the water
slopping lazily from the end of his faded hose.
There’s the saint bernard or the bernese or the
hundred pound thing you couldn’t name
jumping behind the chain link fence, roaring, bellowing,
intent on ripping out your throat.
Somebody hollers from another trailer—
not his—a woman’s voice, a shrill falsetto layered with
the grinding, mechanical groan of her voice box
spinning its wheels in tar.
There’s the trailer with the sagging addition,
siding buckling like a button-up over a beer gut,
eavestroughs full of last year’s leaves,
the hint of a tarp, like too little wrapping paper trying to hold it all together.
There’s the Live Laugh Love on a tattered screen door and
another and another, hung like wreaths
for a holiday dissolved into commercialism.
The people are pale and doughy, squished into people shapes by
thrift store clothes that walk around like the ghosts of their previous owners.
Their eyes are empty and their yards full,
and you walk past them to your own trailer,
instantly forgetting their faces as you close the door.
Once inside, you are just a person cooking dinner, doing the laundry,
reading a poem, drinking wine on a Tuesday,
a person like any of them.
Meditation has long been a necessary aspect of my life. Growing up in the woods, I learned early on that when life becomes too stressful to deal with, a quick retreat into nature does wonders for my state of mind. Since moving to a small town in British Columbia, I have adopted my small front porch as my main site for meditation. Ensconced in a lounge chair between my lilacs, my hydrangeas, and my veggie garden, (no phone in sight), I practice square breathing at least a few times a week, as well as the meditative practice of focusing on and absorbing every sound I can hear within gradually increasing circles. I find that focusing on all the minute sounds around me helps more than anything else to clear my head and get me ready for the day.
Brianna Ferguson is a poet and short story writer from the Okanagan Valley. After earning her degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2016, Brianna moved to Vancouver to work as a music journalist for Vancouver Weekly. Her poems and stories have appeared in publications across Canada, the US, and Great Britain.