Trails

Man, I’m seeing trails.
Are you seeing trails, man?
 
The cheap, stoned thrill of stretched vision
why did we want it so bad?

He waved his fingers in my face, forward
ten back. Too much? I covered my eyes.

We’d been taught to see straight
as these roads, the boxed grid of this flat city.

I slouched in the seat and giggled
till my eyes ran. I rubbed them,

the incredible wetness on my fingers –
I couldn’t stop. I haven’t laughed

or cried like that since, crawling out
the car door, rolling on a restaurant lawn.

The things we remember are never good enough.
I bent to the dark wet grass and rubbed

my face in it like it was a kind of make-up,
the night’s make up.

Whatever door we stepped in,
the bright lights forced the squint.

A bathroom mirror, a dozen, two dozen
bathroom mirrors, in dingy bars

all-night restaurants, my face that flushed mystery
swirling in front of me as I steadied myself

against the sink, my hands squeezing porcelain
like a loaf of bread.

And home was always too dark, the bed full
of its snakes and slithering. One body alone.

My friends, in your own rooms, floating
streets away, what animals twisted in your sheets?

We never talked of those hours the next day
or the next, sober, squinting in the sun,

pulling on a cigarette in thick silence
watching trails of smoke rise clear, rise and disappear.

***

“Trails” first appeared in Gulf Stream #4 (1991).

Jim Daniels’ fourteenth book of poems, Birth Marks (BOA Editions, 2013) was selected as a Michigan Notable Book and received the Milton Kessler Prize. His fifth book of short fiction, Eight Mile High (Michigan State University Press) appeared in 2014. Daniels teaches at Carnegie Mellon University.

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