Six Weeks

Driving to Astoria,
both of you
asleep beside me
(how else can I say it?),
the moon through the sunroof
of your grandfather’s Mazda,
road yawning out
under high beams,
pulled sheet-tight
each time we pass a car,
headlights flicking
yellow reflectors on
one by one.

Sometimes music
on the radio,
sometimes my voice
singing to no one,
singing into dreams
(what else can I call you?).
Sometimes brakes
on corners, sometimes
wipers, sometimes
your mother’s thigh.
Mostly the cave
of trees and stars,
its vaulted ceiling.

We pass the parking lot
where Lewis and Clark
huddled and wept
for six days as the Pacific
heaped and heaped
its welcome upon them.
Chinook traders paddled by
and sold them dried meat
then slipped back into the storm.
Lewis swore death was near.
Clark dotted the spot
on the map and penciled in
Dismal Nitch.

Your mother wakes.
I say the name and we laugh—
How emo can you get?
The parking lot
is full of families
asleep in Winnebagos.
Our stories bolt off
ahead of us.
We turn onto
the famous truss bridge
and cross the mouth
of the Columbia,
open and dark.

The journey is a long time
and we take it.






First published in Event #54/3.

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