with Paul Simon

I tuned, I strung and spread apart the chord trying to unlock it, to let us
be carried up over rooftops like the painted lovers, because to be lovers
was what we were always driving toward. I dialed, to say we’ll marry
our way past their divorces, would meet in air and throw our fortunes
in the trunk. Borrowed cars. The dotted lines stitching our cities together.

Then it was rest stops, it was white stripes, it was me not saying I’ve got
a mind churned with all of a sudden, with turnpike. It was her silences, some real
holes in the weather in the car. Cassettes and headlights to cover darkness, the state,
summer rain, someone’s musty lake house. Here
she said, we lay down on couches. But still the road-motion in my
shivering, in our stares, in how by morning her bag
was already packed and shoulder-slung. So

what if I lost, phone number fumbled, after we bought
blank tapes to fill with music love letters, thin as a pack
of cards, unlucky as a smoker losing her war with cigarettes? 
And what if no call back, and never saw after, and Mrs.
someone else had her somewhere life with a Tom or Wagner, pies
blue-lighted in the diner window, evening drive home? And
still couldn’t stop thinking about it, as we walked off
from then, spread apart and left to look
in face after passing face for a glimpse, for
something placed inside memory like a car-trunk and driven all across America.

Dan Alter‘s poems have been published in journals including Field, Fourteen Hills, Pank, and Zyzzyva; his first collection, My Little Book of Exiles, is forthcoming from Eyewear Press. He lives with his wife and daughter in Berkeley and makes his living as an electrician. He can be found online at https://danalter.net/.