Second Place Winner in the Bank of the Arts 2015 Juried Exhibit

The scrub brush holds tight against Highway 17’s medians
as billboards scream “Free T-shirts” and “All U Can Eat Crab Cake Buffets.”
Fog lifts against my red, spoiler-free Mustang
as I escape the blue blood spinnakers of Charleston, and find Myrtle Beach:

a mecca of hemp necklaces, tongue piercings, dragon and butterfly
tramp stamp tattoos, Ron Jon Surf Shop.
I search for my first apartment in the classifieds
and find only condos with rust stains,
blinds cracked and broken, flood marks
a foot above sickly dentist green carpets.
Low ceilings and white-framed pastel acrylics of beaches,
the ones where the girl forever
chases her pink hat in pampas grass.
I scrape my heels on weeds outside —
none of that place gets into my car.

Driving past the Century 21 office, I do an illegal U-ie
after seeing “Rent Specials.”
Don’t even need the key to F312 Possum Trot Road,
since painters opened the door and load up their brushes in milk white.
I pause to see a skylight,
golf course view, mirrored closets, 30-foot high ceiling,
two torn couches, missing chandelier lights, broken toilet seat.

I climb the spiral staircase, a whorl of shell
that weaves economy in the 450-square foot loft.
A single strand of DNA. A birthright?
No more living with passive-aggressive parents, boyfriends or cats.
When I write the $575 deposit check, I see the staircase
curling up to my scented candles and purple lava lamp.
As I descend, a baluster flakes and peels black dust
in my left hand: skin shedding and reforming.
Like the sunburns I won’t let myself get here at the beach.
It’s time to skim the railing with my right hand
against the single center pole.
It’s time to find me.