Afraid of Getting Too Close, Too Soon

by Jane Devin on 06/09/2011

You’re the million miles of territory I’ve yet to cover. You are the road up ahead and the vision in my rearview mirror.

You’re the snake that lies coiled and hissing on the hot black pavement in Arizona, and the surprise of wild lavender in the fields of North Carolina. You’re the half-starved coyote in Montana and the caged crocodile in Texas, but you’re also the sunset in Pennsylvania, the mountains in Utah, the lake in Michigan and the bitter cold of Minnesota.

You’re the perfect blue sky in Albuquerque and the gold-lit skyline of Chicago, as well as the swamps of Lake Charles and the dust of Tulsa. You are the winds of Key West, the salt of Santa Cruz, and the suffocating crowds of New York City’s Chinatown.

You’re the blues that I played on country roads and the soul music that I sang along with on I-80. You are an old man bent over a fishing pole, a one-legged woman on the side of the highway, and a lounge singer at Howard Johnson’s.

You are the flowered bedspreads and the smoky curtains of cheap motel rooms around the country. You are also the crisp sheets, pristine waterfalls, and red-coated valets of upscale resorts.

You are an early morning miracle in Florida and a devastating loss in North Carolina—and all the searing lies, stark truths, and runaway imaginings that I experienced from California to New Jersey.

You are a long, drawn-out recovery from a love that deconstructed naïve roots and poisoned fresh blooms.

You are the happiest-I’ve-ever-been, the freest I’ve ever felt, and one of the worst betrayals I’ve ever known. You’re a shot-down hope, an adrenalin rush of trust and a lie that sought belief.

Today, you are a red sun and smoky clouds, delicate new tendrils springing up in black soil, and a sense of urgency.  A cobalt blue horizon, a clay colored wall, a pair of shoes with worn out soles, and a secret that I’ve held for too long, hoping it wasn’t true.

You are another story, second in the queue, suspended midair, restlessly waiting for signs of possibility. You are a hastily scribbled poem in a leather journal.

… and all those misspent words
left hanging on tenterhooks
and the fragile wall that held them

shaky, those promises
stunning, those reproaches
miraculous, those moments of faith …

You have created an unbreakable bone in my spirit
& yet the clock runs out on all things,

bone and blood and survival

& certainly those breathless wants
that pluck the straw from memory
& weaves houses made of hope.

You are my next book and I am the writer afraid of getting too close, too soon.

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