Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It all started with a kiss.

 Every once in a while I get an idea for a story that I'm not sure I can tell, or write. I can see a woman on a road somewhere, I think the time period is somewhere around nineteen seventy. She's hitchhiking, carrying a suitcase, and the sun is beginning to fall below the horizon. I worked on this premise for a while, days and days in fact. Eventually it turned into this poem, and it seemed like her story was told sufficiently. I could leave her there and move on to the next idea, cooking in my head. But I still see her there, walking along the road, her dusty shoes and suitcase, her sweaty palm holding the plastic handle.
 She's thirsty and tired, her feet blistered, her shirt, sweat stained and sticking to her back. She keeps looking over her shoulder, thinking about the lost time behind her and maybe the man she left at home, wondering if he'll come, knowing that he will eventually. The road before her, stretching out into the future like an unfinished thought, a ribbon of black leading into the unknown. Somewhere behind her a rusted out Chevy Nova lies smoking in a ditch, the front left tire still spinning. She can't help thinking as she walks, wincing with every step, her cheap shoes cutting into the tops of her toes, that it all started with a kiss.
 She can smell his aftershave in the air as she thinks of his rough face, his rough hands, his rough words. Sometimes, stepping out into the future without a map, without the slightest idea of where to go or what to do when you get there is a whole lot better than holding on to what you know, watching life pass you by.

The corners of a kiss

Many, many miles fall beneath her feet
Her corrections lying heavy on her back
Re-collected, undirected , and completely disconnected
tied crooked on a wobbly track

She can feel the burn
She could see the turn
But her wheels wouldn't hold the road
Filling empty jars where the flies once flew
Digging ditches where the stars unload

She can see you there
In the cinnamon sky
Flying high with a smoke filled head
Reaching for the moments of a life unlived
In a box in the closet by the bed

Jacking up the corners of the house I see
Filling up the corners of her heart
Loosening the muscles of an unsung man
Looking for another way to start

Many, many miles fall beneath her feet
Searching for the moments that she missed
Maybe right around the hour of a life well lived
Jacking up the corners of a kiss
Jacking up the corners of a kiss

Tony Whitford