Listen, kid, the first rule of Rumspringa is you’ve got to lose those clothes. I don’t know where you’re going after you pull that suitcase circa the seventies from under the bus at South Station, but I’m pretty sure you won’t need to be standing in the shade of your wide brimmed hat. You don’t know me, but I know you, baby face, in your homemade trousers and snaps. Blonde strands shoved behind your ears. Trust me. I was you in another place and time. Different uniform. Same guilty look.
Listen, kid, I was harsh. You probably still follow the rules. Maybe you got drunk a few times out behind your brother-in-law’s barn. Smoked a blunt. Then felt real bad. Slept with your girlfriend, told your cousin. Not to boast, but as a confession. Maybe, a humble brag. But that’s not what I mean. You look like you carry a lot of pictures of your siblings on your swap meet I-Phone and show up to work early. Leave late. Maybe you’ll catch the 10:20 down to Philly and transfer ‘til you’re standing outside a Dairy Queen waiting for your ride somewhere in Ohio or Indiana. Hell, maybe even Montana, Florida or Arizona. Amish are everywhere now. Even Boston. Maybe you’ll take the escalator up to street level with old women in saris and teenagers laughing in Cantonese. Your tongue rising among Ghanaians, Nigerians, Puerto Ricans, nations upon nations without number as you call to say don’t worry, it was a long journey, but I’ve arrived.
Abigail Carl-Klassen has published work in Cimarron Review, Guernica: A Magazine of Art and Politics, Post Road, and Huizache, among others and has had work anthologized in New Border Voices (Texas A&M University Press), Goodbye Mexico: Poems of Remembrance (Texas Review Press), and Outrage: A Protest Anthology for Injustice in a 9/11 World (Slough Press). Abigail won the Manitoba Magazine Publishers' Association Award for Best Suite of Poems and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2015. She earned an MFA from the University of Texas El Paso’s Bilingual Creative Writing Program and taught at El Paso Community College and the University of Texas at El Paso.