New Jersey and North Carolina
Sometimes I wonder out loud
Or in my still pool of a mind,
A nice clean ripple of a question, a request to know
“What are you doing in North Carolina?
i. New Jersey
In the thickest Jersey accent I can find
in my mind where it lives,
this other time and other life
speaks to ask and answer the same
With a different sky which seemed
less blue, more white, more filled with smoke,
but in which I fall back into the softest grass
of summers in a childhood
full of grass and bikes and music and plays
and a dark brown earth that crumbled sandy against your finger tips,
that barely stained your skin,
next to a pond,
next to a farm,
where it seemed many animals could live and fill
a square inch densely,
i. North Carolina
Where then I wake up and realize I am in a land
Of wetness and expanse,
in the middle of a forested and long land
where the water is cool and filled with algaed life
and the forest is full of small fungi and not a lot of animals or people
and where the earth is cold and orange, a clay that will stain
the jeans and the feet and the hands
which touch it.
ii. New Jersey
When catholic kids with freckles and red hair
pick up the chimes and
boom, boom, boom,
played them for parents on a Friday night,
the most important notes they played all year
and the room was as quiet as a room before you go to sleep
until the chimes rang out like that soft soft vibrating mallet,
soft that way
and we all listened.
There was always a nice girl inside the 90’s sad girl
with vibe too soft to last in the world, she broke down in a fit
of piano solos, crying in front of people awkwardly
and saying “I’m sensitive.”
Fiona Apple wrote that story and lots of girls were on the page with her
and scribbling in our diaries about depression,
on a bed in New Jersey.
ii. North Carolina
Where I learned there are whole different worlds in a single country,
a barge as packed and as full as this one,
where in certain places long vowels are formed and sometimes in a vessel
gurgled on like cold water in the back of someone’s throat.
A place sullied by blood and terrors
where people still fight
to engender solid ground to share,
in the not-so-deep south
where people smile and feel naturally awake without a lot of
adversity on the surface.
A falsehood sometimes, an idyllic and lovely falsehood, but
This pretty place
Where lovely sunsets seem to be accompanied by music
a vibrating red and orange oscillation that makes everyone on a highway
slow down their cars to a milder pace.
And the roads aren’t so crowded
and neither is the sky, or the forest,
though, the earth is filled with the dead…
Where music is everywhere
and light seems to gold the earth and its bodies,
where a heart can breath.
But also where a heart can break,
and so many have here, like everywhere,
in front of each other, into tears.
A bold soul sets themself in front of another, and things
fail and fall apart.
iii. New Jersey and North Carolina
I moved here for a boyish man, who
gave me up soon, and I soon gave up.
We’d danced around the end so many times and
it was all stupid and unmemorable now.
When I showed up in his state and presented my case,
it finally and formally fell to ruins within weeks.
How funny, those are the things
that pull us along into strange grounds where
the forest is so sweet and damp, the smells
of pine and soil spread into our brains to make us wiser.
The red clay earth can hear us crying on it,
and we can stand still holding hands,
finding ourselves in a strange land,
wondering aloud whether we will make it through these moments,
and just “Why are we in North Carolina?”
I’ve made my peace with living
in this place where my Grandfather died.\
Where I took a plane from Mexico to see his body
put into the ground.
Where I watched someone I thought maybe I would love
leave to go on to another life,
by which point I’d already stopped caring at all.
But I stayed.
And I woke perhaps in danger through that first summer,
but oddly surrounded by a feeling like a friend
who held and sheltered me in every way,
who presented me with dutiful and loving people
who cooked for and with me and laid me down on a couch,
who for hours laughed and touched my hair and softened me,
and who also broke my heart at different times and whose heart I broke
and who let me
Pilar Timpane is a Social Work student at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, NJ. Currently she is serving a year as a short-term missionary in Valle de Chalco, Mexico where she is working at la Biblioteca Lampara del Camino (Light for the Path Library). The library provides tutoring, english classes, and works in tandem with the local church to serve the area’s children.