Amber Got Her Girls Back, and Now They Live in the Abandoned Restaurant.


Amber is watching her girls play in that forsaken greasy spoon. She has her hand on her neck, stroking the place where Craig’s fingers pressed down. The forest green sham wood paneling backgrounds the two toddlers who are oblivious, of course, jumping on their makeshift bed, a mattress propped between two booth seats. The bed’s yellow stuffing is exposed like cut fat in a surgery. The two, who don’t notice their rundown surroundings, are writing their own stories even at the second of this photograph—the pink shirt with the red heart is the baby’s favorite. She’ll remember it beating. Her sister will pass down worn jeans and the brown brogans to her. I always get the hand-me-downs, the baby will mew and she will always be the baby even after Amber presents her with a younger brother. They don’t know it now, capering on the dilapidated booth-bed but both girls will, in times of stress, adopt the same dreamy look their mother wears and go searching for their version of those wicked fingers and that green paneling which will turn out to be the wild woods of their grown-up adventure.

Wendy Taylor Carlisle lives in the Arkansas Ozarks. She was raised and has mostly lived in the South. Her stubborn heart often calls her to the familiar landscape of that abandoned restaurant. Her most recent chapbook, forthcoming in December, is from Platypus Press, UK. For more information, check her website at

Art provided by Chris Verene, Assistant Professor of Photography, College of Staten Island.