Beneath the Soil
Every night we watch our communities crumble. Histories built on fault lines we forgot. Through cracked pavement, disparities rise. First a few and then a swarm.
There is no denying that in this time of isolation, that these drawn connections are more tenuous. Metal pin pricks force its way through towns that never make the news without a seismic event. I mark this location on the map. Truckee was the last town, two hours away to the North-East. Check the charts: a swarm is coming, but each morning the neighbor mows his lawn.
Community folds in on itself, hungry. We are hungry too; for a group, for a place to belong. Some families we are born into, others we create. Loving words spoken in shadows bring comfort. For a time, I believed the words were meant for me and ignored any other direction. Check the maps again. These numbers can't be right.
The maps have led me west toward my beginning. Remember the old man wearing a ten gallon hat and black duster riding a tricycle through town, remember the cashier’s face weather marked into leather, the families caught in a net of intermarriage, friends that left and came back and left again, remember Honda Hills before the fence went up but after a friend of a friend of a friend crashed into a tree, the town you grew up in. I remember the asphalt beneath my feet, crumbled at the edges where the dirt fills with weeds. And I remember the slumped shoulders of the farmer beginning to erode down to the earth, staring at the corn sprayer dormant and broken in place while corn grows around it. Trace the roadway with calloused fingers. Feel the impressions each left behind. These markings show us to ourselves.
Arguments echo down each street and answer at the end of the cul-de-sac. The neighbor starts to dig.
Concentrated in valleys, away from the sea, the swarm is concentrated inland. This is a warning. Always at the lowest point, away from mountains. Plates beneath the surface start to shift. Unrest is a symptom often ignored until it is time to build. This is how we first come to know how to exist in the spaces, the places in between. This is the space that allows us to rebuild. San Andreas will show us just how ready we are.
K.M. Crane grew up on the flat star thistle filled fields of California. She holds a B.A. from CSU, Sacramento. Other work has appeared in Star*82 Review, IO Lit (Refractions), and Brenda Magazine. Find her on Twitter @kmcranewrites or Instagram k.m.crane.