Circling the Lot – Poem

Author’s Note: Although I was inspired to post this poem in response to the prompt “Shame” at We Write Poems: (, it is about triumphing over shame, not succumbing to it. To me, it is a redemptive poem, one of strength, not sadness, fear, or victimization. I hope that comes across in the speaker’s re-visiting the park as the driver of the car instead of the passenger & the re-visualizing of the event to reclaim power.

Circling the Lot

Twelve years later
and the park is groomed
for recess when I visit,
flattened brown by sun
and power mowers,
strips of metal strung
together where fat mothers
sit and watch fat sons
hit pop flys while
the skinny girls cheer.

I drive the car now.
Circle the lot
in my white sedan,
wheels scrape gravel
that skins knees,
the circling a game,
a musical chair,
a cakewalk; a circling
that wants the winning spot,
the spot where he
would park.

He would circle
before stopping, light cut
with a headlight switch, dark
a blindfold as he circled,
spun me blind, directionless,
in his beige El Camino
with the slick brown seat,
pull me in, tight
as leather, stretched
like leather, blood
on the carseat, semen
he would scrape off later
at the carwash with
two quarters and a hose;

after the policeman
and his harsh, official light,
after pulling up his jeans,
after leaving the cardoor
open to take a leak
behind the bleachers,
after leaving my body
open to the tops of trees,
the rain, the moon.

Twelve years later
and I circle, thrust
headlights into darkness
like a flashlight through
a window, circle
to illuminate the lines
that mark the scene, circle
to recover the surety
of sound: the hush
of cars passing, the zip
of denim, groan
of carseat; the sound
of hands; the rip
of satin down thighs;
the sound of doorlocks,
idle engines; the sound
of mothers changing channels
in the dens of houses
behind the diamond; the sound
of baseballs in wet grass
like laughing, rolling moons.


20 thoughts on “Circling the Lot – Poem

  1. Oh wow! I’m so impressed with this. All the darkness here comes as such a surprise, and really hits hard. I also liked the synesthesia in “flattened brown.” Well done!

  2. This poem makes my throat feel tighter and my insides shudder, especially the third stanza. And it should. I think your approach — the movement through time, the circling of your car now around the fateful spot, the concrete truth in your descriptions — does imbue the poem with redemption. We return, we triumph, we drop off our shame like badly worn chains and burnt skin. Bravo.


  3. My favorite is the second stanza. It has such a powerful rhythm to it, and the last two lines “where he/ would park” mark the presence of your memory, where present meets past. It contrasts well with the autonomy you hold now as the driver, in the first line: “I drive the car now.” Nicely done!

  4. It takes bravery to return, and the way you repeat the circling makes it very powerful – almost a ritual. I love “circle / to recover the surety / of sound”. It’s not something that can be rushed or done lightly. A powerful read – thanks.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s