Cleaning Out the Garage at the Centralia House Two Prose Poems by Lana Grey

Cleaning Out the Garage at the Centralia House

I’d never realized how poorly gray plastic storage tubs held water. As I stripped what had once been papers and pictures apart from the sopping, color-bled mass that had been floating for untold ages within the tub—the water seeping in from a human-sized hole in the roof—I wondered what memories my father had locked away here and not cared to retrieve before the rainwater and cobwebs had claimed them.

In a patch of mud, I found the small, square case containing a CD burned by my mother a few years after the divorce, during that tense time they’d considered reuniting, when I would’ve done anything to have kept that from happening—to have stopped the arguing—like sawing off my own foot or spending my summer sorting through piles of broken electronics and corroded boards with exposed rusty nails and half-rotted spiders in the garage at the old house my father still hadn’t managed to sell.

At Least It’s Raining Now Instead

“My brother killed a man named Jack,” my friend tells me as we sit in our dorm in fall, the fan whirring from the green countertop, breaking the silence afterward. The only other sound in our own little space was the thunder, and even it has gone quiet. I tilt my head to look at her oddly, realize she isn’t joking, and hop off the chair at her bedside to turn off the fan. I want to hear.

But now the crickets cry in time with the gurgling of the radiator, and I grumble as I return to the chair, cursing the cacophony. From her bunk, she looks out, and I know it’s not the room she’s looking for, but the past. It was 2010, she tells me, two days after Christmas. I try to reconcile this joyful time with such a tragedy, but I can’t seem to connect them.

She says she was watching Princess Mononoke, and when her parents mentioned her brother’s accident, she hadn’t expected much from it. I remember now that she once said how often car crashes happened in her hometown. Fender-benders were expected. Snow was piled up along the road. She saw fear in the faces of her family members when they returned. They hadn’t said much when they left, but when they returned, her stepmother was devastated, her father furious. Her brother would be fine, but not the other.

“Jack was a pastor,” she tells me now, her words soft amidst the cries of the crickets and the roll of thunder beyond our window. She says Jack’s wife sang forgiveness of the snow’s slip-up only to take it back the next year and curse teenage recklessness. Perhaps time wore her down, or perhaps she grew tired of pretending she held no ill-will. My friend says, as we sit through the storm, that her brother hasn’t been the same since the mess created by the four-wheeler that slid from his truck to Jack’s car in the crash—and the blood in the snow.

Lana Grey was born and raised in Illinois, and she currently studies English/Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She intends to pursue an MFA and teach writing at the university level while continuing to write and publish her own poetry and prose.