beach day

        in the cove as it rains,
        you love foggy days
        beach towns bend in the wind.
        walk with me,
        past the peeling yards
        we’ll make it before dark. 
        our dock looks strange,
        sunk in clouds
        you look ghostly.
        today I ask,
        wet hair skinned to me
        if we can stay here
        like crabs under rocks.
        the rough sounds of my dad’s caught breathing 
        I haven’t heard since we went camping
        and I was small enough then to 
        lay on the thin trailer loft and listen. 
        we are in the same trailer now
        rebuilt into my home but 
        the steel holding us up is the same. 
        now we sleep on two even lofts 
        one on each side 
        the layout is very important,
        we built it ourselves. 
        Max told me one night that he felt like he was stuck in traffic, and that when he looked around everyone looked the same. 
        They were all in the same car as him, all waiting for the same thing. He said that was what life was like; everyone moved the 
        same way, and when you tried to take an exit, you always just got right back on the same road as everyone else. 
        But he was not traveling at night, alone, when he said this. Not like I am. He was sitting on the floor of his dorm room. 
        His walls were dark in the faded evening but the lights from the mini-mart below his window still illuminated his face. I 
        thought his feelings were unusually bleak then, now I feel them all the time. 
        I’m driving now, I remind myself, to keep the wheel from slipping. My radio becomes hypnotic until I realize that it has 
        drifted into static. Carefully I cue my playlist as I thread the white line, bumping us in the night. My cat is with me, he’s 
        curled in my lap now but soon he’ll whine into the music and crawl through the car. His movements are so regular that I’ve 
        stopped hearing him. A black SUV has been ahead of us for miles, I’ve convinced myself that it’s dragging us through space, 
        by a tow cable too thin to see. I’m following it closely, the slight flinches from its brake lights are keeping me awake. 
        The music is swelling and bramble cries, his small voice is drowned out. I’m far away now, the red lights of the SUV are 
        reminding me of the lights of the city bus, when I played this song for her. She was sitting in the seat in front of me, 
        so I had to stretch my earbud cord. I think the red glow from the overhead lights was the reason I chose this album, the 
        woman draped in red cloth on the cover seemed correct for the moment, and it was an important moment. I had asked her if 
        she wanted to listen to music with me, a small thing, but one of the only things that I had said to her all day. She agreed, 
        we were nervous. The album was of love songs, it was red after all. 
        A bright checkered square is reflecting back my headlights and I swerve right to avoid it, behind it stretches a concrete 
        barrier, thick blocks glued together for as far as I can see. I imagine the car flying into the thin metal sign and eating 
        the barriers like a snake. The grill opening up like a grey mouth and swallowing them like pills, over and over. The sky 
        lightens to the West as the road curves towards a gas station. The tank is a quarter full but I do not stop. We careen into 
        the darkness like marbles. 
        There is no destination. I forgot to tell myself, or the cat. That’s because I haven’t noticed. As we fall into the road it 
        spreads infinite tendrils and we follow. The exit turns us in a neat circle, over and over. As Bramble gets up and screams I 
        pull the car over to the shoulder. I wait there until I can bear it no longer. Then I drive on. 
        Then and Now
        I remember Are You My Mother,
        like the mirrors that folded in the bathroom,
        the one I shared with my parents. 
        The green stretched across two pages
        with the bird drawn small 
        to show the enormity of it all. 
        That night and every night,
        I propped my knee on the linoleum sink 
        to grin between the mirrors 
        and see gapped teeth reflected back and back 
        trapped in the green glowing futures. 
        Luckily then, the green was restricted 
        to living inside the mirrors 
        and those two pages
        with the small bird who is so completely alone. 
        And these spaces of infinity were resolved,
        by closing the medicine cabinet doors.

        I’m leaning back against hot concrete,
        bruised in sun like a Coca-Cola ad,
        my trailer has a striped, blue fan, 
        I can hear it shaking through the window. 
        You open your paisley door, pink plastic,
        just out to dump the water, but you notice me,
        flies shine like sequins in the air between us,
        you, princess, they’re for you. 
        At dusk, I’ll see your lamp switch on,
        I wish you read the things I wrote,
        things, just smelly words stained in my trash,
        but I left them on top for you. 
        You like to roller skate on days like this,
        the heat melts your wheels and makes them gooey,
        I think I imagine it, but sometimes you disappear,
        like those four little wheels were all it took.