Gone Lawn
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Gone Lawn 47
winter solstice, 2022

Featured artwork, Streaming, by Claire Lawrence

New Works

Michelle Geoga

BOGO (By One Get One Free)

I dress before dawn and you sniff my jeans as if a stranger wore them while I slept. It's just me in them. You read the coming day with your nose, know something about how days evolve, hour to hour. What you smell of the world, a deluge; what I see and hear of it, a trickle. Easy to imagine you as wiser than I. You know what the turkey vulture cruising above had for dinner and where it got run over. You drool over last week's cod, still inhabiting the kitchen. Know the coyote who crossed our lawn as we slept. We head into the black, dawnish unlight and see the star from the night before, a brilliant pinprick over the spruce line. I ask you if it's a planet. You hear in my voice these are the first words of the day. Later, I gather shopping bags, you rush the garage door.

Now it's light enough to read the signs, see the ditch grasses bent by the wind as we fly on 94. Billboards sell two for one or buy one get one free. I don't want whatever it is because I don't want two quarter pounders or two ten-pound bags of russet potatoes or two babies, fraternal or identical. Double makes no sense, like when baked once rhymed with naked. That's how baked as in stoned should be pronounced, and then one would lead to another, which is why I don't signal when driving. No one's damn business where I'm going or been. You sigh in the backseat. I check the rearview. The road vacant behind us but I see you, wet nose gunking the window, and we stare at each other. When I scratch my head, you scratch yours. You must feel my thoughts, or smell them.

Once, I pulled up to the Delaware Water Gap toll bridge in Pennsylvania but didn't want to pay to cross to New Jersey. Maybe I should have. Last March, I had to choose from four Lab puppies and now I wonder about the other three. I picked a college based on how far it was from home. I'll never know how much that choice shaped my life because you can't look back with 20/20 on what didn't happen. My son now lives in New Jersey. It seemed like the wrong direction when I found myself wandering Route 209, eating my first anchovies on pizza, thinking it hair but eating it anyway, road tripping with my beagle, the best boy before you. He fell into my lap but you, I had to choose. So far so good, Dagwood. One never knows what side one's buttered on. So many sides.

In winter, the stands of bare trees, dead or defenseless, don't stand out. If people went naked, I'm pretty sure they'd look different from each other in a crowd. Naked's no way for us to disappear. In winter, deer are less naked because their color is of the trees. My friend's white dog is invisible in the snow, my brown dog, invisible in the dark. I am invisible in general, happy to have layers to put on before I head outside in the cold, to the store, anywhere people are. Deer are powerful without clothes and dogs are swaggery. Trees and I get by, naked yet armored in a crowd, invisible in winter. On the other hand, maybe the dead trees use the living ones for cover and I have it all wrong, crowds are where it's safe to be alone. No one looks at me in the checkout line at Meijer.

On the drive home, purple-gray clouds quilt the sky, snug the horizon over bare trees. Snow plows ready for the day, position themselves at the No U Turn openings. We take the exit slow, always a good practice, in case it's a mistake and we want to go left not right. Off 94, we cut through snowflakes rushing the wrong way, following twin ruts chiseled on the now one-lane highway. We pass the sign for slippery road, pictograph of death. Dark again, the only sound wind rushing over the car, enveloping it as we pass, and you pacing in the back seat, sighing. Not like you to be awake in the car but anxiety does that to us. I see only a quarter mile ahead. It's all about trust and belief, not confidence and bravery. But for you, Dagwood, it's about the pig's ear I put in my cart.

Michelle Geoga is an artist and writer from Southwest Michigan. She has an MFA and a BFA from The School of the Art Institute. She has published and exhibited visual work at Woman Made Gallery, Sullivan Galleries, the Center for Fine Art Photography and elsewhere, and published prose in the Ekphrastic Review, Five on the Fifth, Cleaver, Longleaf Review and elsewhere. Her work can be found at michellegeoga.com.