Pointed East on I-40, the sun sets on me but seems to shine on you. You flick your ash out the window and the wind blows half of it back inside and you take no notice. Too focused on the road ahead to notice the ash below or the glory behind.
I wonder if you'll remember all those nights I can’t forget.
Neither of us can roll a joint so that twisted Zig Zag, stuffed with the dry shake you bought in Flagstaff is falling to pieces. The desert wind tears it a little more every time you hang it out the window. You keep offering me some and I keep declining. I’m scared that when I get to my duty station they’ll test me but it smells better every mile.
I wonder if you’ll sober up and let me down.
Too tired to drive any farther we pull off into a cemetery where we both sleep. Seats reclined all the way down, while the wind rocks the car from side to side with one of those Kansas breezes. Awakened by mourners and their solemn procession, with bleary eyes we switch places so I can drive.
I wonder what we would be without this car.
Somewhere off course and with you a little carsick, I pull into a gated community up to their docks so you can feel better. I think it’s Missouri but it’s too dark to read the map and our dome light went out two states back. I light that candle you picked up at the last grocery store and write while you close your eyes and breathe.
I write this poem:
took hold of me
out of time
so close to the end
I smoked again
Crickets and bullfrogs
call to each other
and to us
from night’s velvet
How did this happen?
hidden in unlikely
You can breathe
with the evening’s water
lapping the sides
of this memory
April 1st 1999 10:30pm
Later, in North Carolina, you cut your hair. Your long, dark hair that reached down the length of your tan back is now short around your neck. I was drinking coffee when you walked out of the barber shop, beautiful and hopeful, waiting for my reaction. You gave me an envelope with some of your hair in it, rubberbanded in a wavy strand.
I wonder what you’re doing now.