She took no pleasure in sunny days;
how a shadow fell on pavement,
an eddy of dust on a desolate corner,
the reek of hot asphalt in an empty parking lot.
All were reminders—most of all the sun,
beaming on the Midwestern landscape.
It had burned in the sky as glaring and
relentless as a Cyclops that day in the desert.
Smell evoked memories most acutely;
the synthetic, sweetish aroma of hot plastic
inside a car brought to sweltering in the
summer heat conjured up other, earthier
smells, both familiar and revolting: the rank
odor of dungarees worn too many times
without washing; the stench of pale, flaccid
flesh sweating in the 110-degree heat; the sharp
metallic smell of the gun that mingled with the
high-pitched stink of her own fear.
Flashbacks to scraps of yellowed newspaper
swept away on a restless wind, a vacant house
whose shuttered eyes saw nothing, a whiff of floor
wax in an empty school; how the mountains deepened
into purple with the sunset as hope shrank to a pinpoint
in the dark, while night seeped into the sky like spilled ink.