Driving Back With No Map
Now we’re cross-hatched
as gibberish on the airwaves,
vapor skids on sky,
new graffiti over old.
The bad hotels, the long mornings
we’ve liked each other,
rolled off the husk of talk,
late check out,
the buffet pecked over.
Lone pastille of a voice on the radio,
a woman tells of lighthouses in.
When I hear a stranger speak
of details far away, I’m much calmer, aren’t you?
I spy the last boulevard of,
the moth of light on your wrist
as you steer us back
to the one home we have,
the calamitous city,
its high old stars never wasted
on those who re-enter.
How coarse were those few days:
the bird claw outside the Cuban place, perfectly detached,
dark yellow, unloved ornament.
A bit of tuft left.
The girls more entranced than the boys.
Esther was the one to first look, to wander into the dark laughter.
I commented on the pink, opening sky, long past the woman’s breasts too exposed
at the bank, changing our work day
into papery keys, unlocking more;
no eye contact. Her breasts,
swinging and pale, bothered you;
decorum, I suppose. Or maybe dumb desire.
There is always a vein in the sky
that waits to burst.
Why I knew you loved me in that second,
out of all our lucid flesh and word transactions:
the way you jotted a helpline number
in a kind of casual music,
looking at me with a kind of
helplessly steady light.
Your plain gaze on anyone’s tears,
inquisitive touch on public sculpture.
And I would not for the life of me return that look.
You are someone
who pours a glass of water
perfectly, without spilling, in the dark.
In the bath,
cuffs of warm silver encircle our wrists,
on the sill above.
Deep in the parked car, deep
beyond the torn fog of the roads.
Your chest a light amber, exposed, unhurrying,
changing into ski clothes in the front seat.
The square of pink light on your face
as if you’d been projected, just then,
Upon a wave I’d plotted,
curved upward, unshadowed,
strung to all the hands of air
for my endless taking.
I come home early from work.
I like rigor when it finds me.
But seeing the end of daylight
seemed necessary today.
Someone’s nailed a small painting,
a flat heron on wood, on the streetlamp.
The mailwoman’s teenage daughter
joins her on her route, murmurs to her
while she tends to strangers’ affairs.
Maybe she understands,
maybe the daughter does too, who
quietly steers her mother’s cart—
the secrecy, the magnitude
of these systematic offerings.
That they could slay the day for some,
or coax into delight.
Somewhere in this neighborhood,
my friend peddles geodes
her father scraped for her from the mines.
The one she gave me, a purpled knotted pool,
a slate for the myriad romances
between elements, a fig
unchecked by weathering.
A purple like a healthy blood.
Jennifer Gillespiea poet, musician and editor living in Chicago. She received an M.A. in poetry from the and has been published in 42 Opus and Front Porch.