Avenue of the Stars

Leslie Williams

From a deep brain-embedded place
the recurring doodle kept slouching out,
caught on paper when she rode the small-town bus
to school, the tantalizing H-O-L-L-Y-W-O-O-D
slanting through her pencilled hills,
the gorgeous whole word CALIFORNIA
filling up her pages with fat bubble script.
She’d been antic, pinpricked from looking
at maps. Mother (and others) had stayed up
rocking her. She longed to rise from straitened
places, to rise—can you tell her that was wrong?
She’s out on the front walk, night-cool cement,
moon in her notebook, drinking Shasta from a can.
She’s in a hand-me-down nightgown
and stretching the sleeves.