Rest Area No. 52 in Morgan County, Georgia
The little girl in the rest stop bathroom off I-20
at mile marker 102 refuses to enter the stall alone.
She’s never used a public restroom like this before,
and she’s afraid of the automatic steel toilet—
it flushes every fifteen seconds.
Her fright manifests in a high-pitched scream
bouncing off the stone walls after her mother coaxes her
into the stall, reassuring the little girl she won’t be abandoned.
She’s scared of being pulled into some alternate universe
accessible only by the automatic steel toilet
in the women’s restroom at Rest Area No. 52 in Morgan County.
She fears staining her white dress with the red trim,
scuffing her bright red shoes, or shaking loose
the white ribbon tied in her hair by her mother this morning.
Afraid that all the monsters under her bed and in her closet
follow the blue SUV to church and kindergarten.
They hide in the “off-limits” room at Grandma’s
and the time-out corner at school, waiting to eat her in one bite
if she’s not vigilant. I share her paranoia.
She survives the rest stop, washes her hands,
follows her mother back to the car. She isn’t wrong
to walk around terrified, to believe in a vortex in the toilet
or a portal behind the shed. They exist—the monsters,
the vans without windows parked outside playgrounds
filled with smiles and candy bars. Someone will tell her
not to be scared of anything, to turn her terror into fuel
for her dreams. But I would tell her to be very afraid,
to hold her mother’s hand as long as she can, to learn
how to walk alone at midnight, shoot a snub-nosed pistol,
where to hide a knife in a backless dress.
Monica Prince received her M.F.A in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry from Georgia College & State University in 2015, and her B.A. in English from Knox College in 2012. Her work is published with Madcap Review and the Agnes Scott 2014 Writers Festival. Her choreopoem, TESTIFY, is being produced by the CutOut Theater in Brooklyn this December. She works, writes, and performs in Denver, CO where she lives with her pug, Otis. To read more of Monica’s work, you can check out her website or email her. You can also find her on twitter.