Trap Street

By KAREN SKOLFIELD 

“[T]he existence, or non-existence, of a road is a non-copyrightable fact.” —Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam (1997) 

Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street 
is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, 
paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, 
no chalk, no children’s voices, 
a fence unlinked from its chains, 
the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble, 
some wandering mailman, a house unbuilt, 
the bricks unlayed, the mortar unmixed; 
of the things that hold more things together 
the cementitious crumbles on this street, 
the lime breaks from the shale, the shells 
from their marl and clay. On trap streets 
the rules of gravity bend, curve to the mountain 
or fight it, dog leg the impossible angle, 
ribbon the gulley, shimmer from heat, 
unspool. Cliff walk, some miracle mile 
meant only for goats, a meander of cloven hooves, 
a stitching of strip mines, red earth or white,
ground that, once spotted, we call disturbed

Karen Skolfield‘s book Battle Dress won the 2020 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry and the Barnard Women Poets Prize. Her book Frost in the Low Areas won the 2014 PEN / New England Award in poetry. Skolfield is a U.S. Army veteran and teaches writing to engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst; she’s the poet laureate for Northampton, Massachusetts, for 2019–2022.

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Trap Street

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