I saw you sitting on the roof that night,
the stars having descended
From their dusty perches to hang
Like old dreams from your shirt pocket.
I watched you for a long time, afraid
Of the ghosts sitting to your side.
It has always been that way for me,
A hereditary fear speckled with debris,
Centuries of minerals, river clay, bones.
The war never ended here, you said.
Merely hid itself in the violent heat,
disguised the earth as a tangle of roads,
concrete and black wires, crumbling fences,
beige and soot, candy and gasoline.
A burning house. A forced slumber.
The death rattle of any final winter.
Later, we got back into the van
and you told me about a dream
where you were riding atop
a speeding bus, how your hands,
frozen and dew-soaked, played against
the valley wind, gripped the metal
luggage racks tight around sharp curves.
You’ve ached for that freedom
ever since, searched for it outside
of truck stops, behind grimy outhouses
and laundromats, under rusted trucks
and unwashed plates, rotted red porches
fallen away from their houses,
crusts of old bread, cracked windows,
a once-pristine wrought iron bench,
a long odyssey, your magnum opus,
a desiccated pilgrimage
you always seem to survive.