After Calculating the Cost of a Trip from Spain to California by Julie Weiss

After Calculating the Cost of a Trip from Spain to California

I can´t ask them to catch the bits
of grief falling out of my voice
like marbles or bottlecaps. Falling

onto our kitchen tiles like a clatter
of coins, whose designs have corroded
beyond recognition. How many times

have they winged it around the neighborhood,
tilting and dipping, a sparkle of clouds
in their eyes? The whir, the rumble,

turbulence of laughter as they land
on top of each other, in a field that refuses
to flower a runway. Some planes never

take off, no matter the years of toil
fueling their engines. How long
since I felt decades disintegrate

in the dizzying crush of a first hug,
since my parents pressed memories
into my spine, as if working clay

in the urgent minutes before it starts
to dry? My children´s hands are too
small to grasp the plans we´d packed

into a suitcase of premature dreams,
now a heap of follies I hurry to sweep
into the trashcan along with breadcrumbs,

eggshells, candy wrappers as wrinkled
as their grandparents´ kisses
filtered through a computer screen.

The clam chowder doesn´t quite cool
to the temperature of resignation before
I spoon some into our bread bowls.

It never does. The crust goes down
hard, sours my throat. My children
chatter about the pot of gold at the end

of a bridge they may never cross as I fold
their grannies´ laps into my pocket,
brace myself for another summer without.


Julie Weiss (she/her) is the author of The Places We Empty, her debut collection published by Kelsay Books. She was a finalist in Alexandria Quarterly´s First Line Poetry Series, shortlisted for Kissing Dynamite´s 2021 Microchap Series, and she has been named a finalist for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her recent work appears in Gyroscope Review, ONE ART: a journal of poetry, Sky Island Journal, and others. Originally from California, she lives in Spain with her wife and two young children.