Thoughts and Theories of Spaces and Distances When Your Girlfriend Says She Wants To Live Together and You Say Yes, Maybe in the Summer
You think there's some kind of formula
involving miles per hour and car lengths
one needs to keep between your jeep
and the gray mini van full of kids
making faces out the tinted back window
that equals safety in case of sudden stops.
But you don't know. You don't drive and never
could figure out what X equaled in school.
Five days a week, you stand on a platform
with people who glance at watches, lean
over tracks and look into the dark tunnel,
hoping. You think they should be careful,
stay behind the yellow line. Last night, a man
jumped or fell in front of the train you were on.
You felt the lurch and watched mouths gasping
and screaming, hands dropping packages,
oranges rolling on the ground. Everyone
had to turn away. One woman crumpled
slow motion into a crouch, fell against
a pole. The cops and EMS workers arrived
quicker than seemed possible. Still, the news
led with a decapitated, unidentified man.
Today, when your train comes, you find
a prime standing spot and test your friend's
theory that every rush hour subway car
carries at least one woman you could love
for a long time. No, it's not the blonde
stunning everyone as she saunters off
at Lexington. Not the one with the tiger
tattoo and blow job lips, not even
the pretty one who keeps looking at you
as if your fly's open. It could be the one
reading a book, wearing head phones
and mouthing words with her eyes shut.
From here, it looks like she's reading
The Grapes Of Wrath. Under her breath
she's singing the song you first made love to,
every moan and grunt in perfect pitch.
The woman you love lives five states
away. Every weekend when the pilot
clicks off the seat belt sign, you reach
into the overhead bin and this goofy-ass,
born again grin begins to spread
across your lips and you wind up
hugging and kissing like freed hostages
and you almost forget you're forty-three
fucking years old, that this kind of thing
embarrassed you even when you were young.
You hurry to the car touching some part
of each other's body, pin her to the hood
and make out like a James Dean movie.
Getting in, she slides across the seat,
straddles your lap and you dry hump
until two half moons form on the icy
windshield and you pry your hand down
the back of her jeans seconds before
she says something about her son, fifteen
minutes, and picking him up from school.
Yes, you are in love, happier than you deserve.
You'll never have to talk to that woman,
or anybody else on the damn train, and learn
that her head's bobbing to the numbing bass
of some electronic dance track crap,
that her dog eared book is a signed copy
of Oprah's biography. No, you can consider
giving up a rent controlled apartment,
moving to Brooklyn. You can worry
about finding less and less time to write,
start to miss your closetful of porn
and wonder how difficult it will be to live
with a six-year-old, autistic boy
and that Linda Blair Exorcist sound
he makes whenever he gets upset.
You can remember the last time
you lived with someone, the way
you quickly tired of each other,
how the times between making love
stretched longer and wider until
you rarely touched, the way it still
hurt when she left and how for years
you believed you'd never get over it.
As you step out of the subway,
the light stings your eyes. Buds
are beginning to dot the ends
of branches and girls are wearing
barely any clothing. You walk
the few blocks to work humming
a new Brian Wilson song, remember
how much you loved summer
as a kid. When you cross the street
a car screeches to a stop.
The driver beats on his horn,
leans his head out, starts yelling
in a language you are fortunate
not to understand. You imagine
telling him you're in love,
that you can't help yourself.
You're sorry, but you don't know
what you're doing. He nods, as if
he knows too well what that means,
then drives away. But not before
bestowing on you the blessings
of a God millions believe in.
First published in The Ledge.