VIEW FROM A ROOM, OCEANSIDE
Through a single window with vertical paneled curtains
drawn back, I watched clouds cast off
in long strands across a panorama of electric blue,
weightless on winds drawing one ill-formed
shape into another like tapestry threads,
each giving rise to a singular gliding web
reflected on a clear day in the waved contour
of land-bound sea.
You killed time on your slow-moving tablet
as the local Wi-Fi signal ran weak the three days
we were there.
The view was our sliver of calm
one brief moment to the next,
a little feast for the eyes, save for the sparse comforts
of the motel itself likely built sometime in the
early 70s. I judged this by the faded quality
of the orange-green bathroom tile, wood-veneer finish
and latch hooked rugs of the single
we booked cheap for the weekend rate.
Thin walls picked up every noise made in the adjoining units;
the sources of the noise unclear as the words spoken
unless the words were ‘room service,’
every footfall brief as the distant port lighthouse’s
beams we mistook at first for storm lightning.
Every sunrise the surf took on rich reds and copper
tones so fine whole reefs gleamed bright as above,
color upon changing color,
hiding true face until darkness resumed.
Then the view changed back to like the night we arrived:
black upon black where the moonless sky met sea,
only the sound to remind us
we were miles from home.
Rested in lap happily shuffling,
my new mood stabilizers
firmly bottled and tagged
as I drive down Wabash from the pharmacy
past the Eisenhower-era playground
devoid of children,
snowcapped and crystalized
in absence of warm bodies, hands,
From behind the wheel I go back,
to the winter I turned eight and saw
a place much like this, suspended
in same cryptic fashion,
how grave my mood became
after climbing to the top
of the big red slide hearing only
the eerie clang of my boots
on the ladder,
finding the way down blocked
by wet snow, browned leaves
My desire for the familiar
joy of that place going unmet
ran deeper than a need
for sun and warmth,
but to my eight-year-old mind,
it was simply a sadness
no amount of warm hugs
or Happy Meals could fulfill.
Later on in therapy I learned
this might have been my first
that moment of crossover
between passing blues
and a chronic depressive state,
how a brain can ‘malfunction’
by robbing itself of a thing called
serotonin, of dopamine,
upon a sensory stimuli.
I recall, too, from that cold afternoon
how muted the brilliant red
of the big slide appeared,
the bright blue and yellow
rocking fish and birds
I rode on many sunny days
sat still as if in wait, peaked
under bleak gray skies.
Contradictions too complex to grasp,
the need to grasp at something,
some bright thing that could not
be found where it once was
made existence the worst thing
next to sickness, shaken by cold.
I walked home from it numb,
the roots of something dark
trailing behind, still growing
to this day.
The pills, my latest poison,
rattle again from below
as the park block gives way
to multilane traffic
and stoplight glow.
the memory passes with it,
leaf-light. My impulse is
to credit this to the chemicals
already working their science
in my blood per careful, measured
dose, the intensity with which
they always shine under
the pharmacy lights,
small in size, varied in color,
in name, in potency,
but each one held the same mix
of fear and joy when first taken,
same mix of sour powder and tepid water;
what correction must taste like
to the troubled brain.
about the author:
Cara Lorello is a lifelong resident of Washington state where she got her start as a high school journalist and graduated Eastern Washington University’s technical writing program. Following college, she worked five years as a full-time reporter before moving into freelance writing and the Inland Northwest poetry scene. Her writing and poetry have appeared in past issues of Vending Machine Press, SlushPile, The Sun, The Smoking Poet, the Spokane-based journals Love&Outrage, Riverlit, and the 2014 poetry anthology Railtown Almanac.