It’s Friday night again, two movies so bad

another one of your lives has trickled out

between them, leading your son along a dark

gauntlet of minivans to the cinderblock hut

for a pee and a cherry ring pop. While you lean

against a wall marked MEN, your son steps up

to the plastic trough. This silence, during which

the counterweight of now shifts in your chest –

you stare into the bone-blank movie screen,

projecting there, in reverse, your role so far:

in the first scene you start to regain yourself;

your son dissolves in increments, your wife

grows more expectant; so you untie the knot,

your paths uncross, a man she’ll soon unthink

she loves is seventeen and her first mistakes

unmake themselves. As animated squirrels

arouse, the credits remand you to this place

where, late summer, the natives pay and park

and wait for dusk. Your son returns, zips up:

“I couldn’t go.” It’s colder now. The stiff

walk to your spot in the herd of family cars

is lit by the movie-beam, the fissured space

above your heads. From this angle, you see

a mayfly, flicking wings and bent leg-wires,

already old since shedding its nymphal skin

in a runoff pond eight hours ago – it loops,

scribbling its presumed signatures among

the light, spellbound and solo. And the plot

glides on its track, a dog is named and lost

and found again. There is no consciousness

sky-bluer than this blanket stretched between

the three of you. (O threadbare, O believed.)

“If this is what there is, at least it’s yours,”

we might have said. “Let it be what there is.”



Originally published in North American Review