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SIX DAYS TO CAROLINA

You said it’d take six days to drive to Carolina.

Maybe you could meet me halfway, measure

distance-time dissolving between us there.

I saw you in Bahia Honda, then Marathon, in

Islamorada—Key Largo—posed up on the signs.

They described how Hemingway, his typewritten

typecasts, swings of rod to sea, erratic early-

morning promises, his beard sodden in excess

from  brandy and even rum—how he may have

even slept here. Right before his leaving. In Miami

you could make out the beach, sort of, against

neon and shouts, the flickers of another waitress

going by that you watched walk back to bar

as the shift of Biscayne air slit a hole

up in the sky. There were full moon interstates,

mistakes, a shortcut past Tallahassee, your recollections

of grass and green.  There were restaurants you never

slowed for, and then there was the rain. The snow

all over Charlotte, aftereffects of layover, people

in a swarm whispering nothing, no, nothing,

would ever change. I remember thinking, stranded,

the word repetitive as strip malls and big box stores,

found strands of hair you’d left in sinks. Smiled

at fluffy bathrobes provided, complimentary, fingers

working against tiny soap bar packages, the conditioner

you never use. Everyone else for miles and miles

sits and waits for their toes to thaw. Then there was New York,

Connecticut—there were symbols against paper, maps

no one could have read. There was the time my father

taught me how to drive on a long stretch of road

in the corner of Idaho, fear up against the steering wheel

as I leaned sneaker into gas. Heard the engine whine,

wind up, up and over mountains, learned how to change

lanes and pass. There’s South of the Border, there’s

Philadelphia, there’s the sprawl of Washington DC

that no one can get around. There’s the Chesapeake

and everything after, the tar a set of snowdrift

discards. There’s the magnets you think of buying,

the postcards that you do. There’s that outlet mall

where you can find a pair of khakis or two from Gap

in their numbered deal of the day, of the week,

of the escalating exit signs turned to rubber-tire beats,

hums through pink lips, a fresh shade you found

somewhere near Savannah, your exhales as regular

as the windshield wiper moves. The wind, every mile,

gets even cooler and the sun’s a worried glance in

the mirror again to make sure that everything behind you—

in the music-moved rearview—the bass beats shaking

lines to waves, isn’t exactly where it’s no longer

supposed to be.  Everything’s behind you, and even cars

can shift bright light to other gleams, the sink of days

crushed and crushed while the coffee in cup holder

fits awkward so misshapen from the gripping.

Holding on. There—right there—is the next rest area

you smile and whiz on by. It makes a difference

where you stop to catch yourself, or find time

to reposition dashboard GPS. Honk the horn

as the sun goes down. Sing too loud, and scream.

Everything before you gets closer—but behind you,

the world’s what disappears. There’s images of sky

and mountains meeting, a sea of fog that might just

linger on. Foreshadows cast to kissing, of gasps and late-night

exclamations, a search against the half-light

carpet floorboards for the steps back into bed, it’s 6 a.m.,

depending on the route you take, depending on the road.

It’s six days to Carolina, depending on when you leave.

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©2020 by Kurt Cole Eidsvig