Landscape/ a sort of love note to Brian Ulrich
land•scape: all the visible features of an area of countryside or land, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal; the distinctive features of a particular situation or intellectual activity.
This is what I eventually began to remember: the vacancy. This is not godspace. Or metropolitanmusical. This is endless blocks of cement and asphalt—a space both occupied and uninhabited. It is where Ansel Adams would come to scold us: it is not beautiful, he’d say. Leaves me blank, he’d say. But he’s dead now, and I’d imagine the American landscape has changed quite a bit since then.
wall wall wall cross street wall wall strip mall wall wall beach. stucco wall brick wall wall wall iron fence gated community wall wall.
On the other side of that wall is another wall and behind that wall is a house where I used to live. The sign reads Deane Gardens, but we always called it The White Wall Neighborhood. On the other side of the side wall is the house where my neighbour used to live. Her son and I would catch butterflies and bees in a net. We fell in love and our parents thought it best we didn’t see each other anymore. Shortly after, I moved to another tract across town and never saw him again.
wall wall strip mall wall Del Taco Albertsons Starbucks cross street wall iron gate wall wall beige wall wall gas station street light wall.
I remember driving to the industrial area off Ellis Ave. and jumping off the roof of a furniture warehouse into a pit of foam. When we were older, there was so little to do besides drive around that most of us took up hard drugs and started stealing from our parents.
wall wall wall gas station wall billboard wall wall Target Carl’s Jr. wall wall freeway wall. wall. palm tree. wall.
What does Mr. Adams know about landscape anyway.
wall wall palm tree wall apartment complex wall wall strip mall wall wall. wall. parking lot. wall. wall. wall.
That is what I eventually began to remember: the vacancy. A space occupied but uninhabited. In the country perhaps your body, your flesh folds into the ground from laughter or fatigue. Perhaps your body beats against bark, and there is something in the stillness that evokes your mother. In the city perhaps your body, your flesh brushes against a stranger walking, talking, sweating, walking, and there is something in the noise that reminds you none of this matters. But here, here is where you drive for miles and never see god.
Jenna Gallemore lives in Portland, OR and is currently working toward her bachelor degrees in English and Spanish language and literature at Portland State University.
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