“A Poem for Parking Lots” by Mark Terrill

Mark Terrill


We’re pulling into the mostly empty parking lot in back of the pet store in Itzehoe on a gray north-German Wednesday afternoon & over in the corner of the lot is a young man sitting on a curb with a rucksack at his feet drinking a bottle of beer—maybe some homeless guy—or a Polish laborer killing time between odd jobs—but right now just part of the setting & I nose the car into a parking place & out of nowhere you start saying how actually it’s a good thing that we all get old & die & that life eventually comes to an end because as you get older & are faced with the ongoing prospect of your own slow decay & the falling away of friends & loved ones it becomes ever more apparent just what’s actually in store for you & the thought of dying is no longer fraught with fear & grief but something more like a relief & even something you could gradually start to look forward to & as we get out of the car I’m thinking hey wow this is pretty heavy & profound for a quick stop in Itzehoe to pick up a couple of spare reflective collars for the cats but then yeah why not & if not now when? & wasn’t I thinking the very same thing just the other day? & I say yeah everyone needs something to look forward to & as I’m locking the car & turning toward the back entrance of the pet store I hear you saying that’s a nice little piece of property there & I turn to where you’re looking & see this empty lot wedged between the back lots & gardens of the surrounding buildings & houses & the whole lot is totally overgrown with nettles & blackberries & weeds & ivy which is crawling up the trunks of the trees all totally neglected & forlorn & yet it’s also a perfect picture of nature just left on its own & somehow reassuring in its own weird way & not without a certain morbid charm & suddenly I see how it ties in exactly with what you were just saying—although maybe not even intentionally—& then even the guy sitting there waiting on the curb with his Zen-like aplomb seems to be a part of the entire metaphysically charged scenario that I’ve suddenly been thrust into with all these signs & signifiers of time & age & what happens to everyone & everything in the interim & I say yeah it is & we turn & head toward the door of the pet store because it’s autumn now & the days are getting shorter & the cats are running around out there crossing the street in the darkness & besides all this other stuff we’ve still got their safety to think about too.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Mark Terrill: “I was washing the dishes in the kitchen when this poem suddenly started coming in, like a radio transmission from somewhere else, although it was obviously driven by a memory of the previous day. I quickly dried my hands and sat down at the computer and started typing the words at roughly the same speed they were coming in. A few moments later I had the finished poem, a transcript of sorts, which is basically unaltered. There’s just no substitute for stream-of-consciousness spontaneity, assuming your receiver is on and working.”

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