« Krystal Languell | Contents | Lily Ladewig »

Leigh Stein

REVISIONISM

 

Going to the airport, opalescent sky,

dawn dragging its feet through the river, I’m

 

thinking that anyone who says I’ll make it up to you

 

is a person aimed for future let-downs,

is a person who forgets anniversaries, but

 

I’ve forgiven worse. I’ve driven to Amarillo

 

in one day and one night, through St. Louis

and Cuba, Missouri, where an old Coke facade

 

hung like a stage prop above the gas station,

 

through Miami, Oklahoma, where there were birds

and cottonwoods and Do Not Drive Through Smoke

 

signs and we wondered what could be burning

 

along a highway with so few exits, but by then

we were half-asleep and so when I say birds

 

I am inventing them. I am a revisionist.

 

I am giving my life back to myself, only

better, brighter, faster. Everything happens

 

at dawn for a reason. At night I find myself

 

reaching for a light switch that isn’t there.

Or reaching for a song. Reaching for a shovel

 

so I can go back and plant magnolias

 

along I-44, give the girl in the passenger seat

a silk scarf for her hair, and unleash doves

 

above the road like wedding rice,

 

like a flag of surrender. This version

of events is just as true as any other.

 

Ask me when I’m older. Ask what I remember.

 

 

REVISIONISM II

 

Going to the airport, braced for divorce,

usually I’m more anxious to arrive

 

than I am to leave but this time I am leaving

 

before the sun, calculating how far

away the airport is, and how fast this car

 

will go, and we’re talking about women,

 

the kinds of things that a woman will do, like

learn to use a Wet Vac in her widowhood

 

or cry over each song that comes on the radio,

 

just because this is a new year, just because this

was a hit from before, back when she was living

 

in the faraway and losing weight and thinking living

 

had become unrealistic, or unreasonable, or

at the very least untoward but right now

 

we’re talking and I’m not really listening,

 

I’m thinking about getting married and

who I’ll invite and how when my parents arrive

 

I’ll seat them on the same side of the aisle,

 

in neighboring chairs, and then I’ll tie

them together, like a mitzvah of my own

 

invention, and this is unlike vengeance, this is

 

reconciliation, this is how to say stay

to the lilies, to the string quartet,

 

to my faceless groom and all these vows.

 

 

REVISIONISM III

 

Listening to you in your sleep, pretending

this is just as good as if I were asleep myself,

 

the tender evening behind us like a jet trail

 

that wants to be read as a cloud and it looks

like a tiger tonight. I’m pretending your arms

 

are your arms, which is to say I’m not

 

pretending they belong to someone else,

good for me, but I’m still not above keeping track

 

of the anniversaries of everything I’m brokenhearted

 

over and this goes for men, departures

and arrivals, weddings I was not invited to

 

for good reason, achievements of my enemies.

 

I’m thinking of rewriting history

so that instead of jealousy my major themes

 

are revenge and justice and I’m going to the airport

 

so that we can miss each other more,

because I want a future to look forward to,

 

another new year already, noisemakers

 

and dry champagne and songs I know

the words to and the way you looked at me

 

at the costume party, I want another chance

 

for second chances. I never make the same mistake

more than four or twelve times, but enough

 

about you, tell me more about you.

 

« Krystal Languell | Contents | Lily Ladewig »