While Driving West on I-96, Wind Disrupts the Radio Waves

Paige Leland

i. Song for the Morning After

The sun burns blind-cut craters in the pores of our cheeks. We awake with elbows in our backs, stale breath between our teeth. Transparent skin blends in ivory sheets and makeup stains and make up stains.

You blow undulations in my temple, skirt small hairs behind my button ear. You press cold lips to my skin just to taste the metallic twang of pearl earring. Fingers slip between my thighs. I think of how ironic it is to feel most alive again this way.

ii. Song for How Literally I Take Most Things

Last Wednesday, after searing my flesh while christening my microwave with that brand of TV dinners you like, I learned you can make a burn feel better by first running it under hot water—

by letting the skin fall off

by exposing the bone—

iii. Song for the Sounds You Make When You Begin to Fall Asleep but Feel Like You’re Just Falling

To estimate logically, there are over 200 billion galaxies in the universe.

I want to tell you this because

I want to tell you about stars and the dust that settles. About molecular biology, the division of cells. About how I’ve memorized leaving.

But this time, leaving feels something like when you left me. Feels like finding a penny on the ground, tails up. Feels like words on the tip of your tongue that you swallow anyway.

If I move eight hours south into a cramped studio apartment with paneled walls and porcelain sinks, I wonder if you could find me there. I wonder if you would try. I wonder if you’ll think about the verse I sang you, the vibrato of Mercury’s falsetto.

And most,

I wonder if I come back, if Michigan will still be as blue as I left it.

iv. Song for Watering the Fake Flowers

I dress women in changing rooms that smell like you. Some days I choke on that fear, my panic like watching a body covered in a sheet being lifted into the back of an ambulance while crimson lights dance in the rearview.

Others, like Tuesday, and yesterday, and every day last week

the women leave and I sit with my back to the wall, pretend to lock the door,

breathe in the menthol and beer

the sticky perfume like cologne,

use the memory of the curve of your lip

to steady my breathing—


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While Driving West on I-96, Wind Disrupts the Radio Waves
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