Breathing Fitzgerald

Getting to Fitzgerald, Georgia, takes time.
GPS can calculate and calculate.
You’ll get there when you get there.

You will take the long road—and, after sunset,
you will use whatever light the moon gives you.
Your brights, of course, will do their best to push night aside,
until the horizon swallows their halogen.
The street you’re looking for will not give you a heads up.
You’ll get one sign. At the corner.
You’ll just have to see it in time. Or make a U.

Begin at a bustle, if you must.
Georgia’s close summer air, a large, warm hand
firm on your chest and cheek, will slow you.
Because wherever you’re going will wait.
Fitzgerald isn’t watching the clock.

Columned and wrapped with deep, covered porches,
houses older than you sit back from the main road
like well-fed elders after supper, watching first-timers
unfold another version of the same story.

Trains and chickens run wild in this town—
an orchestra of players endlessly tuning to different keys,
clattering the air with whistles and clacks.
Even your breath slows here, drawing in plenty of air
to fill that last pouch of lung that too often catches closed.

You will stand out—a stray thread hitching
a ride on the town’s close knit.
But when they punctuate you with
“Yes, ma’am,” their words leaning and curling
under the weight of that drawl,
you feel invited to stay as long as you like.

Which you won’t do.

You like the familiarity of anonymity too much.
And your mind race isn’t down with this measured pace.

So you leave Fitzgerald, by the same long road.
And your breaths get a little shorter.

about the author
Heather Martin is a writer, editor, and corporate trainer. Her poetry has appeared in a previous issue of Mock Turtle Zine, and two of her poems received awards from the Troy Hayner Cultural Center poetry contest. In her free time, in addition to writing poetry, she makes upcycled jewelry and home accessories and performs in local community theater.