blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Woman in the I-65 Rest Stop

Emerging from a stall, she clicks
across the tiles in backless heels
not meant for driving. The jeans and tee
she'd worn inside are stashed in a bag,
replaced by a tight blouse and skirt,
bare legs, a look that says
Now, now we're getting somewhere.
She spreads her lipstick tubes and compacts
like discs of bright, hard candy
across the mirror ledge. She's quick,
meticulous—she's done all this
before—the warped and sagging face
the metal mirror throws back at her
can't distort, can't hide the facts:
you're beautiful.

                          Outside, it's dark,
another closely humid night
in Nowhere, Tennessee. The songs
of lovesick tree frogs call to her.
She's almost ready. Perhaps her eye
catches mine as she slips her rings
inside her beaded purse. The blood
that flashes to her cheeks—how
to read that gorgeous bloom?
Her heels ring out staccato beats
as she turns and pushes through the door,
the heavy air coursing past
like an old story. I wash my hands.
The woman, blooming, does not look back.  

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