We watched the pink eyelid of nighttime
close to the West. I did my best
to squeeze my knees together, but you
couldn’t keep your legs to yourself:
With all of your weight perched on your opposite elbow,
you twisted your hips towards me––
at the precipice of this sunset
our thighs touched in the backseat.
I can remember your pantyhose,
the bit of clear nail polish
you used to heal the run at the base of your skirt,
a little above where we were connected
full of silence and heat.
The warmth we shared
would have been stifling at a larger scale,
but in this moment it was acceptable, even
desirable, albeit through layers
of itchy polyester and the ever-present stare
sideways, out to the river, out
to the lights reflected on the water,
flickering and stirring with the waves.
When you shifted, a chill swept into the chasm
between the two of us,
and it made me think of birds:
in the moments before a storm, air pressure
drops, and all of Aves knows
to be afraid. For them,
the frozen gusts coming from above are an alarm,
swift and cold and sure. For me, in that instant,
the backseat was far from claustrophobic:
an expanse peeled open, dark
and breathless, endless and alone.
The white and yellow highway lines
rolled out forever, spitting towards
an impossibly distant horizon.
That night, it seems, we never stopped driving
and you were far away.
The only thing I knew then was absence,
your absence, a threat
that was entirely hollow, but not without energy,
crackling like lightning in the distance,
simultaneously empty and torrential, dark matter
over robin’s eggs. The run in your pantyhose
split, growing butterfly eyelashes
black and stringy, with an observant pupil
as disquiet as the highway beneath tires.
The city lights stopped moving
on the water. I couldn’t see you.