Where I live it is often impossible to turn left.
I have developed certain strategies
when leaving my apartment complex
to do things the slower and easier way,
to go south by going north, and still
I fuck other motorists over flamboyantly.
In fact my car is pink and conspicuous.
It is warmish mountain June, the floors
are lined with trash, my windows
don’t roll up, and I have a headlight out
so we try to take back streets across the river.
No one has ever been called a superficial
space cadet in this car and I’m about
to change all that. No one has ever
been called selfish, not to their face,
in this car. Videos burnt into my sight:
I get home from work I close my eyes
and see a hand setting infinite waters
on a restaurant table. Or rolling the silverware
my mind loops scenes from the movie.
Almost any word can trigger it: travesty,
technical, muscles, sporadic, Coke, drive.
I just don’t want to get pulled over. Does my
goodwill count for nothing, that I
fully intend to brake for animals, that I didn’t
skin a collie to make my backpack?
A cop comes the other way on the bridge
but there’s not much he can do
about my headlight now. It’s later
somehow than it should be, at night
and into the summer. I see former stoplights
with perfect clarity, when we were talking
about the band, the movie, the actor’s face —
previously agreed on, it’s all good, so good
that its goodness is neutral. But getting
off the freeway makes you realize
how important love is. Rewinding
every friendship every June of my whole life,
this movie might be my favorite,
if I can have a favorite.
Alice Bolin’s essay collection, Dead Girls, is forthcoming from HarperCollins.
The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.