I think of you, across the continent,
Testing your smile that ripened in catastrophe
And wonderfully ready now for death.
_ _ —Weldon Kees
He’s fixed her off the page, where she’s
semi-continental. Cold sunlight
stabs the medicated air.
Too bored except to sit
and suck the mentholated tip
of her malaise, she wonders
at the nerve that led him on.
Gone abroad with her ambition,
she sees him with the key
to a mildewed motel room
where he shrugs on anonymity,
shaves new angles on his face
and edges into the drift
of a west coast afternoon,
smiling like an ad man at the Golden Gate.
Now her camel-colored nails
ratchet the table where she waits.
She turns the clock to face the wall,
her chair to face the waves
of soybean, sorghum—sometimes
she swears she sees him,
motioning, a beacon from the green,
hands cupped to his mouth
though his lips aren’t moving.
Gold shudders through the stalks
and he’s gone. Strange days.
She can’t account for it—how she’s
survived. The way he disappeared.