- To the Girl Rocking Out So Hard in Her Minivan that She Almost Rear-Ends My Minivan, and: Shovel
Ignore that I am invisible to you,a man old enough to call a girl a girl when I see one.
Ignore how I am held up by a half-Windsorslouched under teeth yellow as a work day is endless.
Ignore the depth of my voice and listen. It's not the van.Or the bumper. Or the rubber left on a street
we both will drive days and weeks and years from now.This will not be a lecture, but an epithalamion
for a vow you know nothing about, but that circles the baretendril of your finger, whispering a life that's the best of yet-to-come.
Don't believe it. Look at me, at what, unlike you, I have chosento drive that I may carry others. Listen to the wail of my clothing
hanging on this frame, to the hair short as a paycheck, to a faceshaved every day to scrape the man clean to sketch anew
the delicate line between me and the unknown—and enjoy your hair. I watched it,
saw it furl and boil in the rearview, sure as I knew I'd runa red light to keep from soaking the thrust
of your clueless rocking. And when you pounded your brakes,mouth oblate, soundless and still, the radio oblivious
to the tingling rush in your chest, I knew the ache there— [End Page 175] you, a girl who needs nothing just as a sky needs no sun—
and when the cold found its home, burrowedas if for the first time, when you knew what harm you carried,
your eyes flashed with a light that will burn you to ash,smudge your eyes and wilt your hair, tug at your cheeks
and sorrow your hands, wear at you like the loving graveyou know you step into, if only to seal it so others may walk
over you. Only drummers and parents own vans,and while you rocked, your hands never left the wheel.
No drummer alive can drive without rhythm when movedlike you were. So the van is a gift, from some father or mother,
some parent who you know thinks about you in the car,but you have no clue how they think about you in that car,
radio loud, light turning to amber, rain sheen across the lanes,dark horror of the deer sprinting, the drunk listing over center—
If we could just pull to the side of the road, if you would not seethe tie and baggy eyes and paunch and drive hellbent to cree-pee,
if you would roll down the window a crack and lower the volumewe both feel in our chests, I would share what I know of abandon,
for how I know hair can thrash, how the heart lunges,slouches into beat and strum and crash, and I will sing
of blood of two running in one heart, how that pulpy musclewill pulse and sprint for what can be lost, for what can fail,
for how a life not your own but entirely yours can slow you down,how joys are never pure, how the head that bangs one day looks up. [End Page 176]
Gabriel Welsch's fourth poetry collection is The Four Horsepersons of a Disappointing Apocalypse (Steel Toe Books, 2013). His fiction and poetry have appeared in journals including Georgia Review, Southern Review, Mid-American Review, Harvard Review, Missouri Review, on Verse Daily, and in Ted Kooser's column "American Life in Poetry." Recent work appears in Trampset, Cleaver, Thrush, Ascent, and Atticus Review. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pa., with his family, and is vice president of marketing and communications at Duquesne University.
Jim Whiteside is the author of a chapbook of poems, Writing Your Name on the Glass (Bull City Press, 2019). His poems have received support from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where he earned his MFA...