Driving in the flatland dawn, blue and green
searching questions in the dark stubble of his morning jaw.
The face was not the face I had in my mind last night
watching the water pike, certainly different
than in the yellow pool too neon to see my own reflection
even in the still-unbroken brown of the bottles on the floor.
Looking deeper for the familiarity—
something of unbearded men in subways,
of spilled absinthe on my speckled carpet,
of Brooklyn rooftops,
of late night confessions with closed basement windows
while the rain scratches like lonely dogs.
Are you alright? He asked.
I’m fine, really, just nervous is all.
(Not wanting to talk about the knots you get in your shoulders
from throwing rocks at your identity, and the weird claustrophobia
of the miles from here to Minneapolis.)
I found a receipt on the console with his haiku
about the falling blossoms and singalongable
the start of the drive south,
remembering the tiny green lizards of the late 80’s valley,
the fucking of Basho’s grasshoppers,
of the kind of trees that don’t burn in fires.
Later he would teach me the Japanese word
for reconciled sadness and I would tell him
that this was like that dream about drowning
when you realize you’re too deep to resurface and stop fighting
on your back and watch the calmness
of the way the waves hit the water.