Poetry and Poetics
OF A MIDWESTERN EXILE ON WHEELS
It was a ninety minute drive to work
the summer after my mother died.
I rose at five upon the third snooze strike
to shower where her heart burst—
same room, same hour—minus the sound
of water pattering a gray wash rag.
My job was to test for faulty seals
on factory-made ice machines,
my only tool a set of cracked water hoses,
my station on the line slightly lowered
so that I more or less worked
in a breeding hole for mosquitoes.
I rose even before my father did,
the house still midnight blue,
the coffee still dry in its dark cupboard.
Sydney, our friendly mop of a cat,
had been dirt-blossom for years,
our stairwell shadows just shadows.
This was long before poetry.
I wore a kind of hymen on my sleeve,
mouthing the names of beautiful women
who understandably wanted
nothing to do with my tape deck,
its loose wiring to two busted speakers.
I drove east with my time card,
a dry shirt, my dreams and copper tithe
for the factory’s vending machines.
I’d stopped believing in God,
but not the myth of Eden. For that,
I still drive headlong into the burning sky.
© by Michael
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