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

     the mayfly, flicking wings and bent leg-wires,


already old since shedding its pupal skin

     in a runoff pond just hours ago – it loops


and scrawls 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