“Alarm” By Renee Emerson

This morning, I stayed in
from my neighborhood walk
in the near-dark of 5:30, my witness
of garages’ parting lips, cars slipping out
with headlights gleaming on asphalt.
Always, too, the birdcall,
birdcall, sweet robins and bluebirds,
trilling in the day.

In the dream, she was held down,
screaming, This will not happen, It will not 
happen, the men and cars in a half-moon
around her, as I, a college girl, peeked
through a thin slat
of blinds. I dialed 911,
let go the blind, and the screams
came in intervals, birdcall,
birdcall, birdcall, alarm

clock. But we live in a neighborhood
with nothing to worry about.
57 percent of men who watch porn would rape
if they wouldn’t get caught. A neighborhood
1.5 miles from my in-laws, with children
and elderly, and newlyweds
buying old houses to prime and paint for profit.
The Japanese maples and azaleas splash
blood-colored, prom-dress-vibrant
against brick and siding, like percentages,
like a computer screen and a girl’s hair.

My running shoes, always buddied,
sit by the back door, unlaced and open,
brighter pink than I’ve ever worn before.
When they came in, I was told that
from a mile away, anyone could spot me,
I wouldn’t be missed.


Renee Emerson is the author of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing) and Threshing Floor (Jacar Press). She lives in Missouri with her husband and four daughters, and she blogs at www.reneeemersonpoet.com.

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