What is this roadside, gutted up into ruts and ugly valleys abutting the pavement? By sunrise, construction workers have colonized the street parking, sleeping in idling cars until first shift. The early arrivals step out onto curbs; the laggards have clods and wet depressions to navigate, fetid sludge-puddles of a hue so unnatural, language shrinks from describing it. Six days a week of continual occupation, dawn to dusk: the departing trucks and compacts of one shift give way
to the SUVs, the sedans, of the next. As one vehicle pulls out, is replaced by another, a lucky wash of water might be splashed or squeezed out of the berm’s oozy craters onto the tarmac, evaporating in ecstasy into the urban air, or draining slowly through cracks in the concrete, beginning the hopeful journey to an aquifer or treatment plant. The mudscape rests on Sundays, sullen and exhausted and never less than damp, rainbow films of dust and oil and bloated cigarettes sealing into immobility the still water slumped in deep-sunk centers of lumpy pools. The liquid will languish until a full day of strong sun pushes through the clumpy scum, sucks up all it can into some less viscous elsewhere. Some place to flow. On most Mondays, though, the dreggy water still stands. There’s a sigh sometimes before sunrise, and the world begins again, and there is no place, again, to go.
Katy Scrogin is a Chicago-based writer, editor, and translator, and produces the YouTube series, Lines in Literature. Her most recent publications are featured in Punt Volat, Capsule Stories, The Voices Project, and Sobotka Literary Magazine. She can also be found at katyscrogin.wordpress.com.