THE LIGHT ABOVE, Judson Simmons

by Judson Simmons

It was summer.  I can’t remember
the name of the town we’d just passed through
but I can picture the old man sitting 
behind the counter at Texaco –
his face a wrinkled five dollar bill.

He held your hundred-dollar bill 
to the light above, scrutinized 
between falsehood and belief, then 
slid it into the antique register…

As the sun dipped lower, forgetting 
we still followed, I asked myself: 

Will there ever be a chance 
you’ll forget the weeks before?

We’re in a car heading towards 
a lodge in the mountains, 
to release from our shoulders
the stress of all that needs to be forgotten –
to put behind us the week 
I sat in a hospital room:
shoestrings and belt stowed 
in a cabinet far away, given
smoke breaks and craft time instead.

The road is night, we stitch ourselves 
into the earth’s knitting—intertwine ourselves 
inside the tight thread of a cat’s cradle.

You kept your eyes on the road
but slowed to a stop as several deer 
and doe crossed ahead – innocent of us
until our headlights painted their eyes
priceless jewels. They paused, 
then shattered like glass in all directions.

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