Highland Meadows, Allegheny County, 1979

shuvrasankha paul /​Pexels Highland Meadows, Allegheny County, 1979
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Sunday afternoons, we escaped across green waves
of fenceless yards, hopscotched streets with split–
level homes — their windowed eyes and garages’ open
mouths. We screamed past the chained

dog’s bark, lawns skirted with azaleas
or crowned with the Virgin Mary. We lifted
animals like bracelets from creeks
and sat on Central Pharmacy’s curb snapping twigs
of Kit Kat, hot gravel beneath our soles.

At the playground, we bounced
on air, pre-​adolescent gods
attempting to hook our feet. From there,
dogwoods were bouquets, and hemlocks raised us
on the tips of their fingers.

Five o’ clock screen doors diffused marinara,
stuffed cabbage, or pasta fazool—thick as glory.

Evenings, we circled a bottle, tongued
cones twisted like snow-​wrapped
mountains, biked down vertical
terrain, our tires muffling

the distant coal train. Nighttime, we marked our bodies
on driveways like Xs as if the stars said we were done.
Fathers’ voices rocked back porches, while in,
mothers chatted above crickets, their gossip
a red lip. As we slept in our beds,

adults watched lives played back at them: their own, or maybe
a life they tried to show up for or tried to make, but
eventually let go, like a morning bus any child could miss.


Pittsburgh Quarterly is now accepting submissions for its online poetry feature. PQ Poem is seeking poetry from local, national and international poets that highlight a strong voice and good use of imagery, among other criteria. To have your work featured, send up to three previously unpublished poems in Word or PDF format as well as a brief bio to . Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but if work is accepted elsewhere, please alert us.


Janine Certo

Janine Certo’s poems appear in Crab Orchard Review, Mid-​American Review, The National Poetry Review, New Ohio Review, Nimrod, and Quiddity, among others. Her debut poetry collection, “In the Corner of the Living,” was first runner-​up for the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award. She recently completed her second poetry collection, “Home Altar,” about growing up in a Pittsburgh Italian American family in the 70s and 80s. She is an associate professor at Michigan State University and lives in East Lansing, Michigan with her husband, Steve Certo, and rescue dog, Maddox.

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