I think I saw him coming
before his car scrapped up against
snapping the sideview mirror
off like the way you pluck a stem
off a grape.
But maybe I didn’t.
Maybe I just thought
I saw him coming,
bearing down on us in that van,
on the bridge back to Brooklyn.
Maybe what I really saw,
was the wrong turn
the hesitation I had always been
Maybe I saw the scars I’ve yet to get
not today, obviously
but tomorrow maybe
or maybe it was a van full of nightmares
bracing for the impact.
Maybe I saw you in the drivers seat,
taking part of my life away.
All the same, I said I saw him coming
but I don’t think I did.
I don’t think anyone ever sees these things coming.
I had misread the compass,
and what was up suddenly became down
like it did when I flipped that car,
when I was just a kid,
and the metal roof, touched the steering wheel
and we, all four of us,
should have been headless.
Dead at 17.
Christ, I could nearly taste it.
You asked me if I was okay,
and I was,
but now, like then,
I couldn’t stop shaking,
just a little quiver in the fingers
but enough to remind me,
that inside is nothing but tissue,
pounding down a tunnel,
bearing their way through me,
like a strait
between this world and the world
of blood on the asphalt.
I can barely hear the piano
the tinny plink plink of notes
wafting out of the radio.
Notes dropping the way
people drop, plink, plink,
into the plastic seats on the bus,
their faces swollen as if slapped,
by the winds near the estuary,
their hands brittle, clinging to the
pole, going where?
Is this what we have all been waiting for?
Our hands folded, our heads down,
our lives comprised of packed lunches
of cheese and mustard sandwiches,
of bottles that have been
or will be
or should be
This is the quiet between the death spaces.
This is the quiet between the birth pangs.
There is music on this bus
that huffs and chugs it’s
tired way down 86th street
in the new rain
that washes the silt and mud
and beer cans down the city street
and I wonder
what song is it,
on such a moonless, starless night,
on a stark unholy, un-kissed night,
what song is it
that will save our lives?
In the museum is your favorite painting,
the Three Musicians. Right there, when you
turn the corner. I can see it.
and the monk.
You like the colors, you tell me, the way the
blues and brown beat against each other.
I should be on my way there, right now,
to see it
You have already left.
My bag heavy with great books written by great men.
I have packed my journal, so that I can sit
in front of that painting, a great painting painted by a great man.
The reds and browns beating against each other
attracted and repealed over and over
so that I can sit and write.
The museum, was something
to do today. To fill the hours.
But on the way I realized that the museum
was one more thing to do, one more something
I didn’t want to do.
One more something I didn’t want to see.
So instead I am home, having turned back at the train station.
The cats curl their tails
in little question marks when I open the door.
Later I will write and read and possibly
lay my head on your pillow
in the bedroom,
I will wait in the silence for a moment.
The murmur of the neighbors,
the car honks at the window,
the questioning purr of the cat.
It will be the moment before the something.
Before I get up and put in the laundry,
great comfort in these little things
done by us little people.
Ally Malinenko writes short stories and poems and even one novel and occasionally gets things published. Her second book of poems entitled Crashing to Earth is forthcoming from Tainted Coffee Press. She blogs over at allymalinenko.com