Barstow, CA Just north of the Mojave in 1975, I crossed the California border on route 15 In a Continental Trailways bus. It was the summer I learned to play guitar. The driver tipped off the toll booth attendant That we had a drunk in the back. Nearly to Barstow, the bus pulled over to flashing lights. Someone in a uniform took my grandma’s oranges And the guy in the back. They took the oranges, because of fruit flies. They took the man because his undercover FBI agent story Was all swagger and booze, but no badge. The forced air, Cold, dry, and flavorless Mixed in my head with the fish stick nausea I’d carried from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, It spun a psychedelic yarn Of desert buttes and orange earth across the plexiglass window. Like those movies without a soundtrack.
Forty-eight miles per second every million lightyears My memory and I walked our childhood backyard. Often enough, we’ve looked over its green clover with empty sidelong glances. Sometimes we’d climb the great pine long fallen, or admire the flowers of sharon and irises whose dust was swept down river in summers, until the swamp took over. This time we set feet firmly, pocketed hands and lifted chin. Meditating in the space between my father and us. Leaving the hydrangeas and nightshade behind, the universe – on the wave of a singularity – expanded, but this sloping pitch to the river somehow looks smaller. It must be true that only the spaces between are growing. Published in Levee Magazine November 2018
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