Dogs raced on a dirt track in one of those dusky beach towns along Alabama’s coast,
far from the Interstate, where Spanish moss protects.
We drove through those towns, in early months, on two-lane road visits
to his older sister whose marriage seemed to work.
Several dogs broke a leg,
running so hard.
One severed through its flesh
to the bone,
hanging at the joint.
Words came from a young boy,
his owner, pragmatic
of everything he learned
by all the authorities who trained him.
Cut it off.
Dogs run more nimbly on three
than a mangled fourth.
Hovering, un-embodied, all those Sundays at his parents’,
helping with dishes, blending into their traditions.
framed on the mantle.
Aware, we road in circles,
drinking from bowls, and vacillating
between anger and pity.
A final cut
drove the decision,
a taxi ride home.
Just a limp.
Each mile another layer of sweat washes over me.
The water leaves, the salt stings, and I feel the infertility of my sticky skin.
She left last week.
There’s a friend in the city and the market looks good.
He gave her a good idea and said the moment is one in which to live.
He just left there.
This year sucked away what last year developed.
I forgot what I was saying, again, during the interview.
The salt is a first taste of passion.
Swimming in heat so hot, is it the water cooling your skin or is it the sun burning it free?
I love the afternoon sun and a hot afternoon wind.
She moved again.
She finished that class, but at the bar last night she said she’d like to try something different.
She finished a while ago and forgot it’s not the excuse.
A degree is good for managing people, kids, or money.
She said she missed the beach.
She grew up there.
But not because she misses her youth, because she misses the relationship she had with herself.
I’m getting another degree.
I’m very white.
I don’t have to buy new things every day.
I need transportation.
My car is dying.
A vehicle is for escaping.
Maybe I’ll try public transportation.
He tells me to get in – it’s a black secret service mini-van with the middle and back seats taken out and carpet on the dash.
Two dogs come along and one is small and nestles on the dash.
I notice it’s a stick shift and even he looks cool driving a stick shift.
We’re parked in the back with other cars, like a secret lot.
He pulls out by driving over the lawn, it’s hilly.
He pulls into traffic and starts talking about parallel parking and how he can’t do it.
I’m relieved because now I’m turned off again.
He drives to some big church in DC and we go into a small chapel where George Plimpton, Collin Powell and several liberal members of politics are engaged in a meditation workshop.
They’re all seated in a semi-circle like students at a leadership conference.
Some on the floor, some on chairs.
A woman is talking blatantly about a liberal agenda and how she hates it when George Bush intrudes on their workshop when he isn’t invited.
He just comes in with his dogs and sits down to join the group.
He sits right next to her while she’s talking.
And he motions for me
to sit next to him.
So close to death – and yet so calm
As if in the corridor to something big
Like a stage performance with the curtain
Just about to rise – it’s just you and no one
Can help you now
Just you and the water
And you know that
If you don’t panic, just
Hold your breath and look,
While you can, at the swirling
Outside you – it will spit you out
And you’ll be ok.
So you open your eyes and look
At what you never see
And it’s nothing – just water
And some bubbles and green and yellow
And it’s beautiful.
I am here,
feeling no reflection.
hearing no response.
but no resuscitation.
scorched my soft under skin.
pelted my inner ear.
forced wide my veins.