Make it specific.
Make it Oregon, Wisconsin. The time doesn’t matter.
And not because of that familiar trope, the middle-American town left
outside of time (although this is true), but because you weren’t actually there,
have never been,
and I am going to place you there.
But since I have the choice, make it August. Make it the elbowed
weeds from sidewalk cracks,
sun-frayed and squinting through chainlink
at the laughs and bearing scurries of the skatepark.
Make it the prairie expanse elementary, as low and sullen as Frank Lloyd Wright’s
nailbed as I’ve imagined it, pressed and inked
into a fleshy, presumptuous paddle.
And there you are.
This is a week after we decide to play that stranger game in a bar,
a week after things get newer and better for a while.
And there are the swings.
You can taste the rust through the pads of your fingers,
you can phantom push yourself with a hip-pump,
you can listen while I tell you about how, when he was still a teenager,
Wright made profit off the ashen slush of Chicago.
by placing new things where the old ones had cowered to char,
and it’s held that he rarely prepared mock-ups,
geometric premonitions. Instead he intuited shapes into buildings,
improvised under the flatness of that nailbed.
We could intuit ourselves, but I won’t make it that.
I’ll make it fire,
which again did something for him, destroyed his
home in southern Wisconsin as a Caribbean servant
stalked the burning halls with an axe. This happened,
and I don’t want it to be lessened by your love of The Shining,
Jack Nicholson bearing teeth and stubble through a flindered rift.
Don’t intuit that.
Instead, make it this:
The late summer sun crests the hills now,
fields awash in an orange glow. Sparrows pulse pitch
through the dusk and I can tell you’re tired from the way
you look at your feet.
And no, fire won’t destroy things for us, but believe me
when I tell you this:
There was a third fire, a spark in a tangle of electrical line
that destroyed the same home, not too far from
where we are now.
And he rebuilt it.
Intuit that. I will place you anywhere and build around you.
The kids from the skatepark have sauntered home,
the curve and impossible smoothness of the concrete still
playing with the vibrations of their movement.
I will place you on a curve,
in all your stillness,
place myself beside you,
and search for the geometry in a country without angles.