by Alexis Czencz Belluzzi

Published in Issue No. 195 ~ August, 2013

I’d examined the photograph hanging

above our master bathroom’s toilet.

The contrast of black and white

gave depth to the desert landscape.

I wanted you to take me West. Help me escape

where the sky slapped itself down

like a blue slab onto flat earth,

or where mountains crowded the horizon.


You’d driven cross-country four times.

Saw more of the states than I could imagine,

and I envied you. Take me, I’d begged.

Intrigued, you smiled while I pulled

a map down from the closet’s shelf.

I unfolded it like a quilt across our bed,

highlighting routes that headed West.

I didn’t care about the price of gas,

and laughed when you worried

that our baby might forget us.

Please. We could leave her with your mother.


Once you agreed, I spent fifteen dollars

to get feathers in my hair. I dreamed

of being Cherokee. Of meeting Anasazi

at Mesa Verde, channeling energy

from the Four Corners. I wanted to buy

jute-soled shoes because rubber soles,

I learned, disconnect us from the Earth.


My head buzzed with excitement,

and soon you picked up your old

Epiphone, plucking and fumbling

at melodies your fingers had forgotten.

We decided on a ‘campfire playlist’—

songs you’d learn for the trip.

I joined you in singing hits by Brandi Carlisle,

Jeff Buckley, and Ryan Bingham.

July, you’d said, when the wildflowers bloom.


I yearned to be like you, an old soul,

full of cynicism and free from naïveté.

I thought of the man I never met:

his drugs and wanderlust, blond ponytail

and rough beard. That life’s in a box, you’d said.

Pictures, letters, and fragments kept

contained neatly in cardboard, smelling

of incense and cigarettes; an elegy.