Sometimes I think I can get through anything.
Wrong again – except, I made it to the city
with my patience still intact. I liked the early morning
best, deer in the wheat and crows in the corn.
Midday the sky turned blue and warm wind
rolled over the Ohio hills,
but I was too sick in the backseat to notice.
No matter. Indiana gas station as the clouds
start to roll in. Here the land is flat
and brown and empty. The sky
comes down to touch the earth and everything
goes gray. Finally I’m behind the wheel
and I wish it had been like this the whole way.
I can go fast on the highway and it feels
like traveling back in time, cruising in reverse
the way we came back from Utah years ago.
When the heavens open I’m not scared –
I’ve met god before, just like this – Midwest
melody of rain against the pavement,
or just the song of shutting eyes.
But I didn’t sleep last night. I was too busy
thinking about all the songs I’ve forgotten.
When you’re old, music is supposed to help
you meet yourself again for the first time.
I wish that could happen now – so I pick songs
that matter. Missouri is warm and windy
and it takes all day before I can escape. The arch,
the Mississippi – portrait of a city
that I know must be so ugly on the inside.
Or maybe I like it here. I read O’Hara
in the hotel room alone – I don’t have words
to fill a city that way. The din of beautiful comfort
resonates within this bubble – I stay back,
linger by myself.
What a long day – it’s only 10 in the morning
when Katharine convinces me to fly back.
So I picked out all those songs for nothing –
oh well. It’s not the first time
I’ve done something in vain. Puddles standing
on the sidewalks – it doesn’t matter
if my shoes stay dry. I am guilty
of the default answer – I don’t really want
to hear the question, I just want my voice
to be the most important sound in the room.
At the same time, I don’t like to be the center
of attention – I dissolve to the edges,
wait until I can slip through the cracks unnoticed.
Later we bond about Thursday’s drive –
how we were both afraid, but didn’t want to say it.
I can’t keep my eyes open on the plane,
but I also can’t sleep. Dusk comes faster
than it’s supposed to – we miss an hour.
On the tarmac in Virginia the wind is dry and hot –
it’s too warm for March, and I don’t know what
to make of it. I wait on a bench for my friends
and beside me, a woman cries, but I don’t say anything.
I’m always at a loss for words around strangers.
On the hour ride home we try to figure it out –
what we’re each saying in our coded conversations.
All weekend I heard words, but never the right ones –
for all the intricacies of human language,
it’s insurmountably difficult to tell you how I feel.
So I’m not in St. Louis anymore –
but for the sake of consistency, let’s pretend.
I could have ridden back with the twins today,
flat farms giving way to the rolling hills of the east again.
Maybe that’s why today feels like an undeveloped dream –
I only have one side of what should be a full circle.
At the farmers’ market we eat jams and chocolate,
and Michelle pets every dog. The air is cold and sweet –
I notice the hint of green around the edges of the trees,
the bright yellow of forsythia and the crocuses.
We’ve arrived at the in-between: soon, I won’t remember
winter, but I have a feeling that what has followed me
the last few months might stick around.