The Art of Listening While Driving Through Memphis

by Chris Mink

For her, today, I wish I could love Morrissey.
That his autobiography is being released,
she tells me. That she mashes my face between
her palms like dough before it biscuits,
coos at my parochial ignorance, only means
I must have made it to my later mirror stage.
Good on me. I’m psychologically set
for coffee shops and better churches.
At the traffic stop she takes her hair down
now knee deep into her words only to wrap it
again, slinging it up and off her neck.
Why I have never noticed this sensual origami.
I can’t help staring past her pursed scarlet lips
to the window of a loft. Inside a cave of Lebron posters
and porn I imagine some guy with sad ballads
and chocolate who waits for his tea to fail.
The television says Tom Hanks finds his One again,
as if that shit really happens, as if we make love
the way we made our first volcano science project.

My guts unknot long enough to put the car in drive,
see her neck stiffen, vein against its momentum.
You know old heartaches as if they were bicycles
you’ve forgotten how to pedal. Must be a reason
bruises are so often called cherries—the making
a most of it—not love as much as those
letters folded and left in a locker or hand-me-down
nightstand, the kind you smell before you read,
you read only after you’ve let that odor lift
and wail and spin and strain you to stupor.
She keeps talking. This is her long poem of polyester.
I am certain he will take beer with his tea,
convinced I should turn every folded page of her torso
until the volcano erupts, and she sweeps a forgotten strand
behind her ear like a primal latch, neither one of us
understanding what opens.

Chris Mink is a poet and teacher whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Hobart, and Storyscape among others. He lives, works, and takes the dog out in Austin, TX.

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