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Went to Tennessee

by Caroline Wilkinson

Saint Louis gripped hard. The key broke
in the door’s last lock. Neighbors said, Don’t
leave. The moving truck would not start
on those blocks of brick homes. Rough red,
going up and down to gangways, parted
air for cats and, twice, cops running. The engine,
sparking, turned me traitor to politeness. I left  
the kind that held, the care that, seizing, broke

the skin, a thin moon-nail digging into the wrist,
the arch growing small and red. The radio dims
as I go back to the truck breaking down by the road
in Kentucky. The state I went to wants me out.
The city I left cares enough to crush with its rear-
view stare warning: Before you go, I will break.