flying through January
windows down in that green Buick
Ripple Red back and forth

and cold air, we loved
the cold, and Phyllis
on that bench seat

so close beside me
eyes closed and mouth open
while we ate that two-lane

one-handed past the graves
of my mother's kin
to the Bullet County farm

where my great-grandmother's
second cousin twice removed
let me spend summers

in what I knew were slave cabins
I had the keys
and we both knew

and she said nothing
as she lay back, put
one leg up behind my head

reached under her skirt
to pull aside her yellow
leotard and with her other hand

pulled mine to touch her
for the first time
the high-beam headlights

not enough to show me
anything we skidded
almost past the turn

fishtailed through the open
gate my right hand slick
on the steering wheel

clipped a bush and straightened
out on the long drive
turned the lights off

not wanting to shine
through my cousin's windows
she'd be in bed

but not too sleepy to want
to meet "my little friend"
and courteously keep us dressed—

but her lights were on.
Hers, and outside, the red
flashing light on the ambulance—

jesus—I stopped the car—
Phyllis struggled up,
we watched the paramedics

load the covered body
and switch off emergency
lights—no hurry now—

They waved as they passed.
The sheriff locked her door
and before he could stop us

I turned the car, Phyllis
closed her window
huddled in her own arms—

We went home. We
had no reports to file
and nothing else to do.


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