in California we stopped at a small alcove
on the highway where a pool was made from
the incoming ocean by blocking it with large
boulders. we swim. Lois turns the light on.
it is a lighted pool.
a woman shows up with a clipboard to
ask us about the water quality and the whole
pacific pool experience.
i told her it was brackish and you
wouldn’t want to get any in your mouth.
that was the long and short of it.
someone calls her a big dyke and she has to
suck it up because she is in the all-male
zone of giant coffeepots and giant filters
that go with them.
(at the prison, the riot rages on. i
hide under a table against the wall. the
guard doesn’t see me).
she stole the drugs and for that reason he
is coming for her: a grizzled man with a thatch
of thick black hair.
i find her at a frozen pond ringed by trees.
i crunch along the edge. she has many
braids and is crying. “i’m sorry,” i say, “i didn’t mean
to find your hiding place. but he is coming.”
i am trying to run but my body won’t
work across lambent fields of beauty.
i end up in a pink-tiled retro bathroom.
his head pops through the window.
“okay,” i say, “just do it fast. Please,” i beg,”
don’t make it hurt. please!”
he takes a small caliber handgun from his
pocket and shoots himself in the head.
i stare, open-mouthed. it doesn’t take
because the bullets are small. he crawls over
to me and shoots himself again.
he dies in my arms.
i ride a bike away from the crime scene
on a cracked road that suddenly plunges straight
down into dark wooded depths.
fleeing my parents’ house
the dog attacking me and i am pulling
the trigger pulling the trigger into its
open mouth and the gun won’t shoot
“pull back. do it from a distance,” the man says.
the tiny bullets burrow into its brain
and it looks at me, stunned and sad.
at British Lenore’s the sliding glass doors.
i go in. she’s in the shower. she must be tired
of seeing me but she hides it well.
(how to tell her all that has happened, never mind
my ruined school career?)
i guess i am back on the line.
the little girl yelling to her family from the
suspended boardwalk until she disappears into their
restaurant. sun pounding.
fog enshrouds the town as we go
in the car to our jobs. the one man their leader
tolerates me, thank God.
the jalopy rolls along.
“put the potstickers in the microwave,” someone tells me.
they are not mine but she is allowing me
to eat them. we cooks have a ritual meal every evening
before going out on the line.