Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You Drive by Misti Rainwater-Lites

you drive away from Albuquerque
on your new husband's fortieth birthday
you are sobbing
telling yourself
It's Okay
No, Really- It's Okay
it doesn't matter
that you hate
his grandmother
and she hates you
right back
so he yelled at you
so he called you a Fucking Bitch
he was sorry
to see you go
he really was
he stood on his crutches
in the driveway
waving bye
the tears streaming down

you drive away from
your husband
and the mountains
and the mesas
you see the hotel
where you spent your wedding night
four months ago
you remember everything
and all
at once
it's all
too much
but It's Okay
you say to yourself
over & over
you drive through Las Cruces
the cows look so sad
the cows are so stuck
like so many people
you know & love

you see a mountain in El Paso
that seems to be covered
with huge white words
but cars are whizzing by
and the sun is setting
you will never know
what the words say

you put gas in the car
buy a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos
a bottle of Aquafina water
and a laminated Texas map
you do not know
where you're going
but you're going away
from the pain
away from the nervous breakdowns
away from the man
who keeps breaking
your heart

you stop for Border Patrol
a pretty no-nonsense
Latina lady shines
her flashlight into the backseat
of your car
which is loaded with
clothes & books
she asks where you're going
she asks if you're a U.S. citizen
you answer her questions
politely with no condescension

you drive on through a fog
whenever you drive through fog
you imagine you are driving through
ghosts because there are more ghosts
than people in your life

your hands grip the steering wheel
you are terrified
of the concrete
as well as the abstract
what the fuck is eternity
and why does it loom
what the fuck is love
and why won't it leave
your poor tired white ass alone
why are these trucks
zooming around you
will you die tonight
just how bloody & painful
will your death be

you drive through West Texas
past Monahans
where the girls ganged up
on you on the playground
in sixth grade
even pre-menstruation
you brought out the worst
in people

you drive through Midland
for an hour or more
past the hospital
where you gave birth
to a girl
and gave her away
past the church
where you sat in a pew
sending hundreds of psychic
I Love You's to your Leo crush
past the mall
where you blew many allowances
on cheap clothes and candy

you cannot find a cheap motel
you waste sixty bucks
on a Days Inn suite
you pull the tacky bedspread
and dark yellow blanket
off the bed
you are terrified of scorpions
you glance at the ugly fridge
and stove
bitterly upset
you take a bath
you get in bed
look at your naked body
in the mirrored closet door
no wonder he loves your breasts
they're small but pretty
with perfect nipples

you sleep for a few hours
he doesn't call
you leave two cold messages
on his voice mail

you shower and dress
and leave the room
you drive to your mom's old best friend's house
Faith is one of the few
truly decent people
you know
when you were in the hospital
at fifteen
she brought you the first "Dirty Dancing"
soundtrack cassette
she visited you in the same hospital
again when you were 23
and saying good-bye to your newborn daughter
she gives you a hundred dollars
and a hug
tells you she will pray for you
all you can do
is thank her
and walk away crying

you drive all the way
to Bridgeport, Texas
your birthplace
your only real nest
your Meme & Pop's house
on what was once called Cuba Road
your grandmother loves you
but she can't relate to you
you write & lose jobs & men
you ooze the worst kind of luck
or maybe it's bad karma
and you deserve it
your grandmother is heavy
with a life lived sensiblyand politely
married to the same man
since she was seventeen
mother to three children
one child buried
your grandmother is a hurricane
you are a breeze

your grandfather is congenial
and clueless as always
he takes you out to eat dinner
at a Fifties theme cafe
you order a Cherry Coke
the waitress asks if you want
a Roy Rogers
tells you a Roy Rogers has
two cherries instead of one
you laugh
you go for it
you have earned
an extra cherry

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