The Thing Is

in Nevada it's overcast and gray and rainy
and the highway is shining with it going West
to California. If I were in New Orleans today
this thick gray midmorning weather would be perfect
I'd lie in bed with the lights off and the shutters open in
my French quarter efficiency apartment in my underwear
and let this air in, come in through the flaking blue paint
on thick wood slats in the dark and breathe in this damp. It
would be perfect to lie in bed all morning and into talk at all
and maybe make quiet slow breathing love and watch the clouds
over the Catholic school on Dauphine and St Ann
low and wet and sliced by telephone wires
the muted voices of children in the parking lot.
the thing is, I don't live in the Quarter anymore,
and somewhere after leaving the apartment on Dauphine and St. Anne
I left the boyfriend too and the thing is now I'm nowhere near the French Quarter,
I'm on day three of a three day train ride from New York City in the middle of
Nevada watching Nevada go out by the Amtrak window thinking how much my
back hurts
And when I get to Emeryville, California the train will be three and one-half
hour late,
and someone who never quite let me love him will pick me up at the station
and probably hug me and notice that I haven't washed or even
changed my shirt in three days
although I did change my socks in Colorado.
But now in Nevada the thing is it's not even gray and rainy anymore,
it's growing brighter, and being three and one-half hours late
there's still an hour till we pull into Reno, and I haven't breathed
New Orleans air
in so, so long.
It's not even noon yet and already I've finished all the books I brought.

Alison Fensterstock