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The Road Trip

Zoë Ryder White

It’s a travelogue. The heroine manipulates her interior syntax with a variety of substances. She is “coming” of “age.” She mans the radio. As she tweaks her interior, so does she dial in on the song with the best sound. She considers love as she plummets horizontally. The tug of the landscape as it catches. The little yank of leaving; and again; and again. This repetition becomes propulsion. She hopes hurtling will help her condense around a few disparate desires. To unify! To interact. She tweaks her sentence with a toke and suddenly her dead grandmother is reaching across the stick shift to stroke her face. She condenses towards the hand. Grandma delivers her sugar pie recipe in a stage whisper but the heroine understands it's only wind; nobody’s hand could reach so far. She considers love. A chapter near the middle is called Roadside Attractions. In this one, we follow her into the u-pick peach orchard at dusk. Because dusk is stronger at the center of the grove, she walks in that direction, reading off the names of heirloom varietals from a brochure. This is where she begins to blur. The body fades before what she’s saying. She’s saying clingstone, springflame, Desiree, frost. At this rate, we’ll soon lose track of her. We’ll have to begin again.

Zoë Ryder White’s poems have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Salamander, Thrush, Plume, Sixth Finch, Guesthouse, and Threepenny Review, among others. Her chapbook, HYPERSPACE, was the editors’ choice pick for the Verse Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2020 and is available from Factory Hollow Press. She co-authored a chapbook, A Study in Spring, with Nicole Callihan. Elsewhere, their most recent collaboration, won the Sixth Finch chapbook competition in 2019. A former elementary school teacher, she edits books for educators about the craft of teaching.

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