Charles McCannon


When the prettiest, buxomest girl
In the whole state of New Mexico
Phones you at five-thirty in the morning
Three hours after you passed out from
Tequila and half a case of Miller Lite
And says it-just-started-to-snow-Iím-gonna-go-up-and-watch-the-sunrise-at-Bandalier-want-to-come?
You say yes
One hundred out of one hundred times.

You pull on your jeans and work boots
Forget that you donít know where Bandalier is
Skid your bald-tired Taurus over to her adobe
Ask if she is going your way

When the same girl
Looks at you expectantly
You hop the fence to the National Monument
Trespassing at her leisure
And open the gate
Bound behind her through a boulder field like you do this every morning
Back in Boston
Up so early
That the sky is still only dark purple

You watch the wreath of breath
That fills and fades just above her head
Donít let your eyes drop to her round, rolling hips
In case she can feel you looking

When she confides in you that
She has a secret name for herself --
Laroo Westerngirl --
You think she is joking --
ďI call myself Flapjack McGillicutty,Ē you say --
Only to see that
She is not laughing
She was serious
She feels silly now, too

But you donít apologize
You just remind yourself that later
On the drive back down to Santa Fe
You will need to confide in to her, too

When she sits on an east-facing bench
At the old Pueblo drive-in
You sit beside her
And watch the one where the sky comes alive
Eating the still-warm apple pie she carried up
In her backpack
Touching her fingertip
In the aluminum pie plate
As you both reach in for the crumbs

The sun peels back nightís blanket
Revealing snow-traced mesas
And sugared glens of juniper
Which you will never see for the first time again

When she steps away without a word
Climbs a wooden ladder through
The front door to someone elseís home
You thank God for this moment
That will still be yours on your darkest night
Driving home after you lose your job
Twelve years later
Calculating how long youíll be able to make your mortgage payment

You follow her in
Of course
You follow her in
You follow her in.

Charles McCannon has published poetry in Foliate Oak and was nominated for Best of the Web 2010. His nonfiction has appeared in Outside Magazine, The Hartford Courant, The Huffington Post, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, and JAMA.

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