Some days I’m afraid I am driven
lonely by the impulse for loss.
At a gas station, the parking lot is empty
but for three men in stiff work jackets.
The tank fills with a sluggish pace and the air is thin
like it’s been stretched too far—ink
stirred into so much water.
I used to know a guy from Anson,
a landscape painter. He’d get drunk Sundays
before the dinner shift to drive backroads in high, late sun—
crystalline blue and green
of mid-summer—just asking for it.
The pine trees damp with their own sap, dark and green.
And I think about him—though last I knew
he’s still working—
what he wanted, if he’d become a stranger to it,
how we are asked over and over
what it is that we want.
One lit sign over the chipped entrance
and starlings on the thermals. I see them now.
One’s wing has caught in the final light.
An ostentation. A diminution.
I know it too.
The sound his Volkswagen tires made was liquid-slick
beneath his breath; the sun in rapid succession
changed places with the ground.