I didn’t know then how fixed our time—
only four months until you’d lay
under an overpass, the dented
helmet still on your head, some stranger
holding your heavy hand.
If I did, we would have kept driving,
recorded your voice,
thrown my diaphragm in the dumpster.
We’d have driven a cooler car,
your father’s beige Chrysler too geriatric
for runs to the drive-through liquor marts.
Away from bell schedules, pressed
clothes and parents, we’d head east
into a series of clichés: a toothless mechanic,
his corroded pickup home to chains,
crushed cans, a three-legged dog named Ringo;
the Sangre sky of a moist, July afternoon;
and rabbits as huge as the jackalopes
jumping off the billboards near casinos.
We could have visited the Atomic Museum,
where you’d wear a tie-dye. At Coronado Monument,
we’d stroll the maze of open-roof dwellings
while you’d serenade—guitar strapped
against your chest, the harmonica
at your chin looking like a neck brace.
You’d play my requests, “Lay Down Sally,”
“Meet Me in the Morning,”
until you’d wander away, leave me the lone tourist
circling the ruin of our lives.
Amy Lerman is Residential Faculty and Coordinator of Developmental English at Mesa Community College in Arizona. Over the years, her research interests have included twentieth-century, American literature, food and culture, chick lit., and popular culture, but more recently (and perhaps at the expense of grading her students’ papers), she has spent much of her time working on poems and has been published in The Gila River Review; ABZ: A New Magazine of Poetry; Generations: A Journal of Images and Ideas; and Garbanzo Literary Journal.