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The New Thing

  by Catherine Pierce

  The new thing is an inoculation against
  the scourge of dullness. It pricks

  for a moment but then from the small
  puncture rises a large red sun that arcs

  slowly upward until the whole sky is,
  momentarily, full. The new thing is good

  for you. Necessary, even. You need
  to go to Bratislava. You need to eat

  raw oysters. You need a story
  about the man who sat next to you

  on the Orient Express with eyes of milk
  and rancor, who opened his bag

  to reveal a sniveling possum. You need
  to tell that story weeks later, laughing

  over how you tripped in your haste
  to exit the car, spilling your Orangina

  everywhere. It’s not enough to relearn
  basic French from a phone app.

  It’s not enough to become skilled
  at baking focaccia. These victories

  have the heft of tissue, the thrill
  of an uneventful dentist visit,

  and in a month you’ll forget the past 
  perfect of etreyet again. Don’t cut

  your hair. Don’t volunteer half-heartedly
  at the soup kitchen. You need to

  get out, is what I’m saying. Pack up
  your family, your dog, your courage

  and leave behind the aspen groves
  or soybean fields or strip malls of your life.

  The enchiladas in the small-town
  Mexican restaurant 400 miles away

  are better than the enchiladas in your town.
  Wherever you go, Ursa Major actually

  looks like a bear. In a bookstore you’ll find
  a used copy of a James Dickey book

  you’ve been meaning to read
  and you’ll finally read it by the yellow,

  flickering bedside light in your motel.
  Your child will sleep through the night.

  Your husband will stop and watch you
  as you heft peaches at a roadside stand.

  Your dog will come when called.
  You’ll find a ghost town. You’ll find ruins.

  And suddenly you’ll remember what
  it felt like to open your window in May

  and hear crickets for the first time
  all season. You’ll remember the time

  the construction men looked at you
  as you strode down the street eating

  a mint chocolate chip cone and you
  were so glad with the day and so pleased

  with your green skirt and your ice cream
  that you knew they would smile and say

  hello, and that’s exactly what they did.
  You’ll hear a steel drum band at some

  cheesy tourist bar and your chest will open
  into joy. Joy—remember it? It’s that feeling

  you have when a red sun rises out of a place
  you never thought could house a sun.  

    Mantis 12

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