I ask for directions a handful of times.
“How do I get to the woods?”
“Where to?” They ask,
and I am not sure anymore.
A four year old boy is eaten
by the African Painted Dogs in my hometown zoo
after falling into the enclosure. His mother lifted him
onto the fence to see the creatures.
When he stops moving, body
no longer under command, body
no longer together, the cries for help, cries for
end. The forests we drive through at dusk
as we leave Kansas, the long nothingness
of the state, rolling hills on and on
are purple wonderland tones;
I want to Photoshop real life.
Then the screaming starts again
and I remember to breathe.
His mother screams for three days straight.
Nobody gets to escape.
She doesn’t know how to exist if she stops.
Colorado looks just like Kansas for the first 200 miles —
long, thin and flat. I used to dream
again and again I was in a theater,
the big Benedum in downtown Pittsburgh
or the Fox in Saint Louis where Alex and I went
to hear Vivaldi’s Seasons with the red velvet
loveseats in the lobby. I would hear screaming
and it would take me a minute to realize the shrieks
were my own. Everyone was staring,
I was standing and the symphony had stopped.
Everything is hushed.
We arrive in Colorado too late to see the mountains.
Six hours later, I walk out of the cheap hotel,
morning cigarette while San sleeps in.
I see the hills. Inhale.
We are still young. Exhale.
This thought should be comforting.
We left home thinking of Las Vegas.
A fight with my mother over the telephone.
We decide not to elope, the excitement turns
to the frustration of being and knowing
we don’t have forever, of wanting
to move and risk and try.
Here is the truth I haven’t wanted to tell you:
I was afraid
the entire time.
The police drive around my neighborhood every night now,
preventing more robberies —
the older brother last year at gunpoint.
We come across a doe walking
along the road near Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs,
where we go instead of eloping.
All I want is to be animal.
We make up our own wedding vows
on the gravel pavement of the empty parking lot
near Graham Cave in Western Missouri.
I do, I do. We guess
what time it is before we check the clock,
adjusting our eyes to the sunrise
and sunset times of the winter season.
San and I tell each other which colors we see
and where. His moon is a grapefruit.
Morning cigarette while San sleeps in.
His leg has been bothering him again —
I’m afraid of our bodies.
You can’t live if you don’t have:
(Written 2013, photograph by me)