Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Michelle Bitting: Walls

Have you ever seen a night this beautiful? Even the twilight’s haze, a June gloom canopy of gray expired meat seems enchanted. Stepping from the movies my son and I saw skyscrapers, steel and glass patchwork cutting the grim chrome gauze, corporate gladiators ready to stomp our pea- slight selves. I looked at my boots and thought: What a lucky Girl! Real leather roofs cover my metatarsals, my helpless arches coddled when I walk. No rat’s nest of wires with barbs snagging blond braids when I wake. The pads of my palms—scabie free. I do not death-stare my days through a chain link grid, my dreams beyond the ditch, flushed. My babies never bathed in toilets. Worst I had to deal with, well, I suppose that time my son was shut in a padded room and shit himself at the special needs school. He was 13 and having one helluva wiring crisis. I got called to come get him after he graffitied his feces across white walls. I’d been picking at my ramen in a nearby parking lot thinking for once I didn’t have to panic. He was not an animal. Who asks to be penned in? I thought I’d shit my pants on a plane once, the heat of bodies and trapped inside a tin can, shaken like a toy by an angry toddler, the cloud gods tantrumming twenty thousand feet up. I’ve watched the wealthy rattle around their mansions as though swallowed by gold plated whales. Mirror, mirror, what am I if not happy with my plein air pizza ovens, my thrice reupholstered chairs? One-of-a-kind tiles from Morocco, color of the Adriatic in August? Rearrange my furniture, someone, please. Everything is fading. My hand on my son’s shoulders, big and scary broad. He’s a man now. A child, ever. Still. Synaptic walls he’ll never scale. Marks on us we can’t scrub away. A beautiful thing, his back. The new muscles blooming. Tensions that telegraph—what’s trapped inside. We walk through fog and the city’s bright lights beam. There’s nothing better than this.


Michelle Bitting’s books include Broken Kingdom (Catamaran, 2018).

Copyright 2020 Michelle Bitting.

Broken Kingdom

2 comments on “Michelle Bitting: Walls

  1. Barbara Huntington
    June 1, 2020

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alexisrhonefancher
    June 1, 2020

    This poem is brilliant, as is everything Michelle Bitting writes.

    Liked by 1 person

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