A fifth-grade bully, a blossoming romance, a late-night crash
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We are each just out of high school,
working the midnight shift,
getting by on black beauties
from the truck drivers we wait on.
Bobbi tells of a forest of high trees
behind the octagon farmhouse:
The most peaceful place I’ve ever seen, she says.
I nod my head, pour coffee, wonder
where I will find sleep.
Before the day shift arrives,
Bobbi offers me the job
of mopping bathrooms
so I can shut the door,
sit on the edge of the stool, and doze.
Bobbi’s voice, a smoker’s rasp to it
even then, barks from the dining room:
I have to take you there.
I nod in half sleep,
stay leaning against the wall
just long enough to dream.
Down stony back roads at first light,
the dark gold of October,
a color you never get used to
no matter how many autumns you live.
Cows stand in low fog
beside the octagon house.
We move from behind tractor
to plow to combine,
tiptoeing like vaudevillians.
We walk into a low orange sunrise
through back acres of beaten-down cornstalks.
It is as she said. A hillside pine forest,
as holy as a temple. We enter it
speechless. Shafts of young dusty light
tumble down from treetops.
We walk in separate directions.
The sun crawls up the back of the forest.
Bobbi is sprawled on a broad gray rock
as if it were her own island.
She watches the light beams, quiet
for the first time since I have known her.
I hold back from touching
a perfect spider web on a low branch,
happy to watch the spider
string its life along behind it.
A wild song fills my head,
I nod with the bobbing spider.
Lonnie Hull DuPont