W.T. Pfefferle is the author of two books for Prentice Hall, most recently Writing that Matters, a freshman comp rhetoric (1998). He's published poetry and fiction widely in Ohio Review, Kansas Quarterly, Mississppi Review, Georgetown Review and others. W.T. Pfefferle can be contacted at email@example.com.
It's a new haircut she comes home with.
And the U-Haul is full now,
almost to bursting
with the various things
she will take with her.
It's the first time she's smiled
at me in a long time.
Her head is down-turned,
looking at something
from a happy time, perhaps,
or maybe like me,
not thinking anything at all anymore.
She's wearing a sweater
I don't rememberbr
That and the haircut shake me so much
that I feel that as I stand on this driveway
I am seeing a new wife.
One who hasn't seen inside
the hollow places
that make up my resolve.
It's on nights like this
when we feel the most at ease.
The two chairs are close enough
for us to touch hands at some reminder,
but far enough apart for each of us to breathe.
Underneath us the planet is spinning,
and we, just like everything else,
spin along with it,
As the sun sets
at the far end of our driveway
we both remark on the tremendous orange color,
and how it seems different or the same
than the night before.
In a few moments she will grow tired
of the quiet and the spinning,
and she'll go inside.
As always, I'll watch her bedroom light go on,
and then off.
There was a time in this house when
we would go in together,
and one of us,
sometimes me and sometimes her,
would have to go and retrieve
the lawn chairs from the driveway
before the soft summer rain without warning
began to wash them clean.
From this patio I can see the avenue.
And on this patio is where I wait.
This apartment is the right size for us,
since the space forces us to contact
whatever it is that could not meet before.
My car rests below me,
in a marked space next to my neighbor's cab.
When it gets dark I smoke cigarettes,
and blow the smoke out into the night air.
When her car comes into the parking lot
her lights flash quickly across the complex,
showing the different cars,
the different lives who are right here with us.
When I hear her come up the stairs
I pray for a rain.
On this cool autumn night,
on this patio,
as I long for her to stand with me,
and feel the spinning of this new place,
like it was before,
The sounds that this house makes
sometimes wake me.
And at times like that I wander from
room to room, checking.
When it gets warm again,
I'm going to get the lawn chairs
out of the garage,
and set them out on the driveway.
Out there at night I imagine you can
watch the setting sun,
count stars as they move above you.
I bet that out there at night
you can feel the planet moving,
moving in whatever is the way of these things.
Tonight, if I stay awake just a bit longer,
I might wake her up and show her
how beautiful it is out there.
I might tell her that none of it
It was a dream, I will say to her,
and I will say it as if
my life depended on it.
The spinning sound that
rejects road and asphalt
grays up at me like horizon
on this interstate.
make the tires dance
undriven by human hands
and the music reaches us
through tinted windows
of gray asphalt upon gray sky.
Yellow houses off the
side of some unmarked state highway,
and a flag in an open, deserted field,
where the grass begins to move across the feeder road,
a blade at a time.
We'll leave this highway,
when we find.
It is not a dream, we are flying.
We'll leave this highway
when we find.
There are cicadas
in the bean fields,
We'll leave this gray ribbon of
heartache and truck songs
when we find.
Rain pointing our windshield,
clouds filling the view
while wheels spill
spray up and over.
The ramp slumps
from this pure gray high
way, and down into a small town,
where people dwell
between the ditch,
a dirt road,
and the exit sign.
We have several routes to choose from,
my dog and I.
But we invariably wander up Clinton,
right up to Colorado.
It's a straight shoot, after all.
My dog wanders back and forth on his leash.
I walk straight.
As a crow flies.
Old men populate this part of town now.
They hack and cough on
swill bad looking Texas beer out of cans.
Manny has about four teeth and
white hair and a houndstooth coat
from the fifties.
My dog barks at him no matter what.
I wave a silent hello. Manny said
"Holla, vanecio," once to me. I looked it up
in a big Spanish yellow book.
One late night,
my dog sniffs the ground in front of Manny's house.
When the screen suddenly opens we hulk
off into shadows.
Manny hobbles to the side of the porch,
unzips his pants
and then pees into the front yard,
his white hair lit up from behind,
the blue of a tv screen,
the hum of an air conditioner.
Later that night I wash dishes in the sink,
wait for a telephone call from an ex-wife.
Out the window I hear sirens and mariachi.
I smoke cigarettes when I can bum them from pretty girls,
I believe in death and Texas and angels from on high.
I believe to my soul that if I could find it,
love would conquer all.
Manny wanders past my house on a cool spring morning,
carrying two large brown bags.
Clothes, ribbons, rags.
I hear his daughter back at the house screaming
something at him.
Manny is old. He pauses at the end of my block,
setting the bags down.
Seeing me, he cocks his right hand up to his forehead.
'Senor,' is what I think to myself, but he says,
"Good riddance," clear as a bell.
He laughs, his four teeth brown like his coat.
Let me call you sweetheart,
as this blue sky turns to grey,
in the natural progress
While the highway signs flash by us,
while each blade of grass
is attacked by sunlight.
Reach for me across these miles,
and brush away the lethargy
of the distance.
Look out of your window,
and watch for my signal.
Give me back the dream,
let me have my highway fantasy.
Show light when there is none,
be true amidst the non-truth.
Don't let the car weave
following the earth's rotation.
Don't let me lay too long
under the hot sun.
There is a new city in the distance,
and old, yellow houses
on the side of the road
and she's somewhere out there.
Direction is a gift
that must be protected.
The North Star.
Three wise men could find this house
by the light of the television.
and each light is one more
moment of suspension.
You could get cold here
against the window,
but that's where vision is best,
where the light outside
reaches in and
shadows me against the wall.
and a tap from the heart
and there is a circle of breath
that is tenuous, fragile.
My vision is only as good as
the lights of passing cars.
She will turn a corner,
see this house,
and she will rush in here
like slivers from
W.T. Pfefferle can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.