Staying In Place

The way each intersection

in a city where you’ve lived a while

becomes layered with personal archeology


The cafe that replaced a liquor store you avoided,

and the friend (or lover) you broke up with there,

and the way on the day of the big fire you passed

this corner as she said, "no, this isn’t much, just grass

in the hills." Somehow in this place, even disaster

passes into ordinary life: insurance, contractors. 


Unfold the map of all the places you have ever worked,

the colleagues you have run into, and the way

they complain about some of the same people

and some new ones you’ve never met, and you nod,

like, of course, I get exactly how it is to sit at that desk,

in that cubicle, and how it feels when that creep

stands in the entry, leaning against both walls at once.


This is the prequel to moving to Honolulu

or Prague, places full with narratives no one

could expect you to know, but peaceful at the moment.

You choose someone else’s landscape to drink

coffee in, while you observe the morning commute.

Before she went to college, Carol Dorf, had never been outside of the Philadelphia area, for more than 4 nights. Her house on Ninth Street has been torn down, and the one on Pleasant Drive was condemmed. Her poems have appeared in Fringe, The Midway, Poemeleon, New Verse News, Edgz, Runes, Feminist Studies, Heresies, Coracle, Poetica, Responsa, The NeoVictorian, Caprice and elsewhere. She’s taught in a variety of venues including Berkeley City College, a science museum, and as a California Poet in the Schools. She now teaches at a large, urban high school.

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