Illustration: green linoleum floor with trap door opening to red

Trap Door

It’s the same dream over a thousand years—
gravel roads and stone fence,
hillsides of thistle and chickweed.

I know the primal landscape dissolves into a cavern.
Sometimes I find an opening and burrow through.
Sometimes I wait for the collapse to devour me.
This isn’t the dream where I fall and fall then bungee
myself awake. It’s more like a trap door, half-rotten
with termites, that opens to a cellar of dusty tomato jars.

Who owns the tomatoes? The cellar? The door?
I return to the same landmarks like cattle to a salt lick.
Yes, I am an animal obsessed with ancestral taste.
I carve petroglyphs in boulders that decay in slow,
defiant silence. They root so solidly under my knife.
See how the palimpsest of scars barely quivers.

Illustration: close-up image of tomato

Jen Ashburn is the author of The Light on the Wall (Main Street Rag, 2016) and has work published in numerous venues, including The Fiddlehead, The Writer’s Almanac and Pedestal Magazine. She holds an MFA from Chatham University, and lives in Pittsburgh.

Trap Door and Tomato illustrations by C.B. Auder.

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