Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017


by Margaret Donsbach Tomlinson

in their sleep the children feel the car’s vibration
dream of their own reflections ghostly in the windows
beyond which small animals on the road’s dark fringe
come out to feed and crossing a road still day-warm

startle and die under the wheels at which hiccup
a child wakes stares at the glittering names
of cities on signs and the specific shabbiness
of a fast-food chain its lit and empty parking lot

canted toward the road disliked familiar harbinger
of home of bed her sisters sleeping too close
in the sticky back seat her slight nauseous headache
drone of tires swish of a passing car louder swish of a truck

irritating and pleasurable she can feel already
the slide of her legs between cool white bedsheets
the sinking into a better sleep the car turns
parents murmur familiar gravel crunches doors open

an odor of emptiness fills the house and doors click
shut and open shut and open she wants her bed
but not to go there in the kitchen water runs
into a pebbled glass her thirst too deep to quench

the water tasting dusty when she drinks
stomach tightening in an hour she is asleep
feeling the vibration still dreaming of a small creature
furred or feathered and a squeak of pain


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Margaret Donsbach Tomlinson’s

poetry has appeared in Rattle, Pantheon, and Arts Alive, and her short stories in Art Times and Fabula Argentea, among other publications. She developed and manages the website and lives in Catskill, New York.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury