“Tender Publics,” a Poem by Lindsay Turner

Midway or the midpoint of my life
I understood the need to decompress
There was never enough tenderness in texts
Storms rolled through every day for weeks
I drove through some of them

I drove through many strip malls on the way—it felt familiar
The sign said “window tinting” or “sunless tanning”
I drove through and forgot immediately
Along the way were many forms of tyranny
The mist rolled up the mountain as I drove

I rolled the window down and rolled it up again
I said, I can’t take you a mile down the road
It was because he was he, not because he was poor
She ate her oatmeal like a much older woman
She furrowed her brow but it could no longer be furrowed
Chemicals and plastics make such differences

Closets and cabinets etc. make such differences
Everybody wants to give me a china set
No one in this life wants a china set
Oh just set her up in a house
No you can’t even sell it

Oh I found us a red wooden house by a creek
I found us a white house with a vegetable garden already going strong
Oh I found us a kitchen of windows
I know I said I didn’t want to go outside ever again
No but I did



Reprinted with permission from The Upstate by Lindsay Turner, published by The University of Chicago Press. © 2023 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.

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