If I believe I’m in the school of Cervantes, Hawthorne, James, Melville, Steinbeck, Salinger, Taylor Coleridge to St. Vincent Millay, it doesn’t mean I will compare.
It’s not reverence for their philosophy so much as a desire for dialogue that strikes me. I leave footprints on their avenues, look at my hands and see the shared veins of struggle & polish the sleet off with my mind’s breeding tenders.
—Dale’s good intentions, certainly, Bryan said, glancing forward, and we came up to the fork and rounded it without a blinker.
I said, Intention’s just a different way of excuse.
I said, What’s funny?
He shook his head and kneaded his hands on the steering wheel. You could tell it wasn’t his by the cheap plastic cross hanging right alongside the airfresheners, their pine filling up, spreading around and lapping frost against the windows, and summer steam. He said, Okay, fine by me.
I didn’t think it was so unkind until I saw Blake making a face. I said, Hey, should you turn the station up? I like this song. Blake was the one who did the favor:
In between What I Find Pleasing and I’m Feeling Fine,
I’m so confused, there’s no peace of mind.
If I fear I’m losing you
it’s just no good, your teasing like you do.
When I started bopping, candy-like and electric-sweet, for dancing-sake and the lullaby beneath it, I shook my head, shoulders, but that besides felt like the only movement in the car.
Once had a Love and it was a gas,
soon found out I had a heart of glass;
seemed like the real thing, only to find
mucho mistrust, love’s gone behind.
Lost inside adorable illusion and I cannot hide,
I ’m the one you’re using, please don’t push me aside,
we could’ve made it cruising, yeah—
As her voice joined the breakdown, Bryan flicked the channels off, the light from the dashboard dying, and I said, What’s the deal in that?
—Can’t stand that lot of new trash at all.
—I like it, I said.
—What’s trash? What’s not?
—Let’s listen to the Blondie, Bryan, you said.
—It doesn’t fit, he said, meaning the setting as it swept by. Blake tilted her head away from the carseat, light slashing and streaking across her face, sticking in the vibrant red of her hair, brought out by the moisture magnifying the bright colors in the new afternoon and up there the moon was obscured by the midrise of the sun, and clouds were pulsing in, leaving dark bruises migrating across the graph:
—I like that song, B, why don’t we turn it back? The stubbornness vanished from Bryan’s face, he settled, soothed and lulled, the tense steaming off his shoulders, and his shoulders unstrained in the white t-shirt. You were shaved to a chisel. He clicked the radio back on as the verses enchanted:
Yeah, riding high on love’s true bluish light…