Betty Stanton

Parking on I-44

She’s someone’s daughter.

And billboards shadow the tall grass: the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant and the revitalization of a brick town and the removal of urban decay and anti-abortion and the gentrification of the city and the Governor’s re-election and the other half are wide-eyed girls and dirty faces and awkward slogans and numbers to call if you are in trouble.

Are you watching them?
The notched space between the shoulder
and the white lines, marking miles, the end,
the red dirt children left behind, between
Oklahoma City, Dallas, the exhaust,
power trapped in asphalt.

And my car breaks down driving away, the power steering dies powerless and I am suddenly trapped between semi-trucks looking for a way off the Interstate.

Withered, halfway to their breaking
point, to the door, exhausted. Red dirt
children made of miles, drinks, small
towns, looking for the next driver,
for their fumes.

And at the rest stop the concrete spreads out in a wide arc around fast food and gasoline and big rigs overfill the parking lot and spill over as far as the McDonalds drive-thru smelling of exhaust fumes and gasoline and hamburgers and the squelch of too many times on hot summer asphalt and eyes watch everything. Deep set eyes, red with exhaustion and uppers and young eyes, red too and withered men old enough to be their fathers, their grandfathers.

See the next blush
between the girls, their legs, the city,
through brick and rest stops, trapped deep
in grandfather’s red eyes, your red daughter,
your tired brick of empty wishes.

About the Author

Betty Stanton received her MFA from the University of Texas and now lives and works in Oklahoma. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals and has been included in anthologies from Dos Gatos Press and Picaroon Poetry Press.