“I met a woman with a mouth like yours…she knew your devils and your deeds. She said, ‘Go to him. Stay with him if you can. But be prepared – be prepared to bleed.’” from “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell
Mountains in the distance, an abandoned mine
in the ribs of the Mojave. They leave the car
by the side of the road, scale the gravel, stir
the dust and muck. A pile of rocks becomes
an altar, a pedestal for binding. Hand
against the wooden door, lost keys digging into her
back, creosote scraping his face, a loose
and banging chain.
Louisiana highway, trees speed by,
tattooing the sky. She climbs between
the wheel and his chest, sinks deep
into the heat of his jeans, pulls at
the straps of her shirt. He downshifts
into third. She traces the path of Mercury
along his navel, the sun.
Baseball field, midnight. Skyscrapers
in obsidian robes, the chain-link catching
the lies of the moon. They are counting
in a language neither of them knows, throwing
to the ground in sequenced sweeps. Too close,
too close, his knee between her thighs
her right arm raised around his neck,
and bruises, like leaves or flames.
6:35am, spinach and apples
in the blender, NPR on the radio.
Hair tucked back and shoes sensible enough.
Dry cleaning stacked by the door. One email
neither answered nor deleted.
As she buttons her shirt, she imagines
his wife asleep in the next room,
sees him shaving in a vintage mirror,
hears a dog bark to be let out,
and feels her name, like an old oath in the palm
of his hand, spread over a keyboard
two thousand miles and twenty years away.
Sherre Vernon is a seeker of a mystical grammar and a recipient of the Parent-Writer Fellowship at The Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She has two award-winning chapbooks: Green Ink Wings and The Name is Perilous. Readers describe Sherre’s work as heartbreaking, richly layered, lyrical and intelligent. To read more of her work visit www.sherrevernon.com/publications.