Still Life with Red Brick and Reserved Parking

            after Purdue University Summer Session 2007

Recycled air turns into summer breezes and I mete
out my dinner breaks according to what cuisines

I won’t have access to by the time the leaves turn.
Tacos and blue-plate specials and hamburgers

with peanut butter on top—some out-of-towner
dissed them on the Food Network and we laughed

at him for not being open-minded—are how I spend
these precious seven o’clock hours. Jugglers

on the Memorial Mall bookend nightly strolls
through empty greenspaces and red brick buildings.

I chill out on the concrete arms of the Engineering
Mall fountain with iced coffee from McDonald’s, sipping

liquid crack in a takeout cup while water falls over
and disappears into a metal grate. My camera records

what my memory will soon discard: skateboarders
grinding benches near the Math Building breezeway,

exposed sandbars of the Wabash River, clouds
resting over the graduate house. In the bubble

of Summer Session, the future seems like something
slurred by one of the drunks at Down Under—unreliable,

not entirely true. I stop wearing my iPod because
I need to hear these sounds before they are gone,

before my soundtrack takes on dramatic undertones.
Wind twirls the Indiana flag near John Purdue’s grave

for my benefit. I look into blue, into cumulonimbus,
and I feel time stretching to accommodate me. This minute

can last for hours if I ration out the seconds.
These clouds will carry me anywhere if I ask.

Josette Torres received her MFA in Creative Writing from Virginia Tech. She also holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Purdue University. Her work has previously appeared in *82 Review, escarp, The New Verse News, and Eunoia Review, and is forthcoming in Poetry Breakfast. She is currently a doctoral student in cultural thought in the ASPECT Program at Virginia Tech.

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