All that land blasted flat with dynamite rode by,
cliffs gone, highway blank as white noise on my
back across the backseat, trees went upside down,
the branches bats and icicles, nooses. We moved fast across
other people’s roots: Detroit, Cleveland, the animals and silos,
highway lines sucked underneath the stomach of our car.
Each house we passed I thought I could have ended
up in easily. Reading Lolita, imagined my
foot on the gas, speed inside me, thin limbs
in a backseat pretzel tangle. I was 13. Shell station,
seeking out the gaze of a man pumping, daring him
to be middle-aged, sophisticated, drama for my drive.
But he pulled away without a sigh in my direction. Fire
of that summer, Steve B, on his way to Oberlin, had taken off
my shirt. Fresh memory: my best friend’s basement, musty
on a cool-ish night, and I could taste the rest of my life
in his mouth: Sam Adams beer, clove gum, the whole Midwest.
Rough couch against my newly naked back, this feeling
also had a taste – a breaking off in chips and melting
peanut brittle one I wanted, want. Steve B is now
Hasidic, now Lolita would be sixty, now I’m married
with a baby, once you see you — see? — you’re gone.
First published by New Orleans Review