|Driving by Dina Ben-Lev|
The summer our marriage failed
We sat in the yard with heavy glasses of iced tea,
when the soil was cool. Praising our large, smooth spinach
downy mildew, blue mold. And then we spoke of flowers,
who were forced to make other arrangements.
All summer it hurt to look at you.
I heard a woman on the bus say, "He and I were going
with a latitude or a pole. Trying to write down
changes, how the sign for infinity turns into a noose
down all the streets we traveled on, that if gravel sinks,
after day in wet soil, pulling slugs from the seedlings?
a bird feeder left unfilled. You who gave
On our last trip we drove through rain
We'd come to watch whales. At the dock we met
waterproof, ready for the pitch and frequency
near. The boat chugged forwardtrailing a long,
creamy wake. The captain spoke from a loudspeaker:
In winter gray whales love Laguna Guerrero; it's warm
Today we'll see them on their way to Alaska. If we
than baseballs, but can only look down. Whales can
my guess they're all saying, Can you hear me?
for a whale's two-foot penis, I stopped listening.
were lost in the wavesbut no whales surfaced, blowing
or breaching or expelling water through baleen plates.
Again and again you patiently wiped the spray
troopers used to disappointment. On the way back
you knew them by name: the Brants, the Pelagic,
whales were swimming under us by the dozens.
Trying to write that I loved the work of an argument,
washing our handprints off the wineglasses. How I loved
in the white wire chairs, at the glass table. How you
the dill grew tall by the window. Trying to explain
how their perfume makes lovers ache. Trying
and dies, how two bodies can lie
Finding themselves later, tired, by a fire,
The night we eloped we drove to the rainforest
our lights were useless. There's no choice,
How I believed you. Trying to imagine
honking, gently, again and again.
DINA BEN-LEV'S full-length collection Broken Helix won the 1997 First Series Award at Mid-List Press. It was also awarded the Eric Mathier King Prize from The Academy of American Poets.
"Driving" first appeared in FIELD Number 48 Spring 1993.