CAM Featured Poet
Cuts deep, severs the city in two; a fine line of asphalt, collecting heat and broken glass. We weren’t born with maps in our mouths, her and I. To one another, for years, strangers cut off by a digit in a zip code. As we grew, knowing highway 17 ran its length, from Punta Gorda to Winchester, but near its center, Jacksonville. So, it felt. We knew the downtown was desolate. Strip clubs and tattoo shops, bleak and forgotten, given to wiles of nomadic men. They would come and live, 4 short years, camouflaged, cutting their hair in the lamplight of a back porch. Fools for marital benefits, fools for having babies, fools for walking up and down highway 17. We were children of that city, wild, unpredictable. Quiet and boisterous. I saw her on a bench beside a public library, she heard me on a tangent of music theory. We shared a mutual distaste. When I kissed her, I could tell she ate from the same vine of bitter fruit: Jacksonville. Scraps from the same table: Jacksonville. Morsels dropped from federal decisions: Jacksonville. And she kissed me, licking at my willing soul to go and go and go. The goodbye, down highway 17, didn’t taste like we thought it would. Bitter like sturgeons dying in the New River. Bitter like trails lined in conifer. But a goodbye taste sweetest, when it’s with the one who knows your soul, and where it was born.