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She who stood before me naked;
"Isn't my body perfect,"
She'd say and it was.
She in her last year of art school,
The girl I hitchhiked a thousand miles
To see when I was seventeen.
Before I left I had inspected my face,
I had a few pimples, an uncertain complexion,
Maybe I should wait a month or two
Till my skin cleared;
She so doll-like and blemish-free
from upscale Chappaqua, New York.
I hitchhiked a thousand miles in winter
With my pool cue and my freight-riding bag
Packed inside with handmade gifts for her,
Things I had labored over.
"I wish you had a sports car," she said.
While she was attending painting classes
I'd either be in the freight yard wandering,
Angling my complexion to the January sun,
Or in one of the two poolrooms.
(But how do you win a sports car on a pool table
In Providence, Rhode Island, in 1974?)
She the first to put the mouth to me
And she choked badly in my moment,
Thereafter eyeing it suspiciously.
She who kicked me out after a week,
After my money was gone and
The pool balls had stopped dropping.
How can a seventeen-year-old choke
When he is playing for the woman he loves?
She did--I did.
He heard I was around and wounded,
(I'd called his ex-wife looking for him)
And in a decrepit yellow ex-mail van
He found me and offered the Wendell woods,
A tiny cabin chained to a massive pine tree.
No well, a rusted-out wood stove, gas lamps,
The January wind keeping that chain taught.
My complexion cleared right up.
Over frozen rutted dirt roads, there
The lone pay phone at Lake Wyola,
The single light above it now,
A small shrine in darkness,
The frozen lake the wind had blown
to white waves in the moonlight,
Black Label pounders between our legs,
Oh, I had to call her,
Damn, I had to call her,
Just had to.
And after the miles of fierce roads
And the coins pressed hard into the slot
And standing there shivering in the
Forever wind of our belief in salvation
And then me whispering her name when
Whispering it again with
All the humility and fear of what I felt.
And she said,
"I can't talk now, I'm with someone."
He gathered me up out of the snow,
I'd tripped somehow leaving the booth
And I looked out again over frozen Lake Wyola.
And I looked at him and I said,
I should have known
I should have known
Damn it, I should have known.
I should have known the second time too,
When I hitchhiked to see her again,
Though, at least, it was down to
Two hundred miles.
Thirst and Consequences © 2002 by Eric Green
Published by Doctor True House Press
All rights reserved.