For whatever reason, all the Ferris wheels stop spinning.
It’s the last day of school, and our bicycles and the Pistons
find a way back to the finals. I sit on a curb
in the cul-de-sac listening to you cuss your mother
about how we’ve spent so many summers serving
as garage sale attendants. Anyway, the carnival
is in town, and the power goes out, and the sky goes all siren.
We turn to watch the wind, cyclonic over the overpass
where, last spring, the new highway meant movie theaters,
meant an economy. When the highway collapses, it means more
to two people who live at its opposite ends. See the bridge
we’re rebuilding? Underneath: paddleboats paddling about.
You walked into the river, then I did. Your long dress rising
up like an oil spill. We used to watch cars pulling out
of the rent-by-the-hour cabins. It’s like small-town fever always hangs
someone’s jizzed underpants from the flagpole. You said we could have been
hawks, talon tied and twisting in the air. Then we laughed
and traded pictures of our privates. Like the railway tracks we can’t see
the end of, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Like I was saying,
everyone began to congregate by the exit. Seek ditch, seek low ground, seek
nope not in front of a window. Aftermath: neighbors in the street
with their candles lit. Out of all the mammals, we’re the only ones who bury our children
in leaf piles. Here, let me brush you off. You use your teeth to bite
through the buttons. You: breathing hard at the edge of the forest
at dusk. Wind riling the pine fringe, the horse manes. Leaving a trail
because you like to imagine someday, you might need to find your way back.
And my last hope is: you haven’t yet.
BRANDON RUSHTON is the winner of the 2016 Gulf Coast Poetry Prize and the 2016 Ninth Letter Literary Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Hayden's Ferry Review, The Journal, CutBank, Passages North, Sonora Review, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina. Born and raised in Michigan, Rushton now lives in Charleston, South Carolina, and teaches writing at the College of Charleston.