Your Trip

I'm flying that telephone distance.
I never thought I'd want to see you
just to make sure that your voice belongs to body,
that your body has skin,
that the skin is whole, shaped.
Teeth in a line, eyes with movement and texture.

Back at school I took a walk with a friend of mine
who has only seen you in photographs.
We smoked a couple of cigarettes, split a Coke between us,
and I told him the story as if I didn't know you either,
because I had to.

It's 8 am and chewing peanuts feels the same as talking,
I worry about things like will I have enough gas in the car
or money for the tolls and what to say to
someone who thought what you must have thought,

that you might never see that market in Guatemala
and you may never see another goldfish
that your last words would be in postcard form with Palmettos in the background.

Face down in the sugar-cane, barefoot, arms asleep.
I want to have been with you
I want to live the tired distance in your voice.
And play the same film reel behind my eyes
So that you could look at me and I would understand
and you would never have to explain again
the smell of dirt when you taste it on your lips.

And I've got to be honest that I clipped out every article I could find
but then threw them away
and I watched the eleven o'clock news for the first time in five months
and the first time with purpose.
And I prayed to God for the first time I remember.

And I've got to be honest that I'm not sure your eyes will be
the same gray-green they've always been
I'm not sure about the texture of your hair
or the smell of your shoulder like sweatshirt and chamomile tea
like it always smelled.

In my haze of seat-belt fastened,
feet on top my backpack over-stuffed with weekend luggage
I find myself wondering how to hold you tight enough
to know who came back from your trip.

Jessie Sitnick