You’re a short road, a shady stretch of pavement that dips up and down easily. Not Old Baltimore Road, that’s farther north, but Baltimore Road, pine-needled and wavy, two-laned, curving through Twinbrook. A favorite of runners; a favorite of muggers. Dense woods on one side, civilization on the other, the dead resting in graves near one of your ends, the living resting in apartments near the other end, a high school between, the high school where my mother spent her teenage years and had her first boyfriend and her first heartache, right there on your side.
I knew you before I could name you, knew your double yellow line like I knew the lines on my palms. I sat in the back seat when my parents drove me home from Grandma’s and convinced myself that the moon followed me, smooth and ivory behind your trees, stopping when the car stopped, moving when the car moved. I took to your overgrown sidewalks one sticky-warm day and walked in my flip-flops to the library, a long walk made longer by the heat, my books growing slick with sweat in my arms.
Footprints lay cradled in your curves; tires have worn your surface thin. I’d like to, just once, press my ear against your sun-warmed pavement and try to hear the rumbles of what has passed. I’d like to sleep curled next to my mother’s tiny gravestone in St. Mary’s cemetery, nestled in one of your bends, visible to the cars that pass on their drives and the dogs that bark on their walks. I’d like to touch one of the deer that leaps across you, lithe and unafraid, sometimes in packs, sometimes alone. Surely their hearts beat with the same rhythm as mine. Surely they have lost something, too.
Mary Lide is from Rockville, MD. She is an MFA candidate in Fairfield University’s Creative Writing program, with a focus in nonfiction. Her work has also appeared in The Delmarva Review.