As I Flee the Country, All I See are Send-Offs
The drive starts early,
before there’s time to cry
about the house we’re leaving
empty. Early, when the daylight
has the crystal clarity of dew.
We aim for Houston
as our first stop; ambitious,
so our motion takes the place of grief.
It’s still waiting for me, like that rawness
when you know a sore throat’s forming,
but I am moving outwards, to a life
I know is better, and there will be time
soon to process everything I’m leaving.
For now, until I’m settled,
I try to keep my eyes fixed forward.
And still I am presented only
with affirmations, dear friends I know
will love me even though I plan to stay
across the ocean; and with beauty
that’s impossible to separate
from country, from the things
it’s put us through; our sullied landscapes
somehow wet with blessings, the feeling that
behind me there are generations
watching, proud and smiling.
In the bayou on the way out
of Louisiana, there are highways
up on columns: grand, mossy,
grey-green — almost ionic,
amidst the smog of traffic,
and it’s so easy to picture
that underneath it all
are palaces or royal
Like there’s a history
it will make us feel good
to excavate, like if we hold our breaths
and swim down, we’ll have windows
to the lives we know were lived
for more than overcoming.
Tomorrow in Fort Davis,
a stop we picked by chance
for its proximity to Marfa,
we will be welcomed, held,
like loved ones returning home
from somewhere far and colder,
and I will feel waves behind me build
and swell; sometimes a surfer,
I have the sense to know this means
safe passage back to shore.
We were sent on our way
this morning with tomatoes
— homegrown farewell gifts
from a friendly neighbor —
and we’ve left them,
like the fresh champagne
that drips down newly-christened hulls,
to blush and ripen on our dashboard.
The light we see from here
is pink, fills up our windows,
dinner plates. I’m told the way I write
serves gaudiness; crushed raspberry
and the sticky juice from sorbet;
over-saturation. There’s a period of life,
after clawing off the heavy years
that you’ve been underneath,
where all that thinness gives way,
finally, to depth. French horn music,
how a rich bell spreads, how golden
soft the butter kind of music melts.
There’s impulse, after scarcity, to drown
in all of it, to soak your fears and damages
in champagne bubbles. I will admit that
lately I’ve been dressing up in costume,
made up as someone wanted; savoring
the ornate beads of water on a raspberry. Like bruises
swell in sunset purples, like peaches wet and soften,
I blossom up in concentrates of blood or sugar.
And sure, there are many ways of flinching,
many different ways of using syrup.
But how to heal what’s underneath this;
how can I begin to sweeten crookedness
that’s always going to be here—always red?
Bulb breaks while I’m hanging
the new outdoor lights, careless
and I know it soon as glass hits
ground. Shatters into itself,
filament snapped, shocked
to dislocation. I want to be
the kind of person who would never
make this kind of oversight;
I don’t want to need the spare.
Like a queen’s expression on a stamp
on someone’s airmail postcard, it’s imperative
that I think always outward. The new bulb
distorts the sky around itself, assigns its own locations
for the clouds. Delicate, but the curve of glass
imagines so much power, such effortless
control. How the filament sparks, how it glows
and lives and smolders, in such a grand
and well-constructed showroom.