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May 29, 2014 Poetry

Rubber Light

Aviva LeShaw

Rubber Light photo

That was the night Gabby and I drank the bottle of bourbon next to the makolet.
In America, we call them mini-marts, but in Israeli outskirts,
we call them makolets --
until we can’t form the word anymore from the foam on our mouths.
We’d walk down long roadsides until we couldn’t recognize the mountains around us,
and then we’d hitchhike back home.
Gabby made me walk for a while. I kept trying to turn around,
walking, wondering if I should catch a ride to somewhere
with more than a view of the mountains.
             I’m trying to find someone on the side of the road,
             but the desert land stretches like rubber bands, slings back,
             swings and stings me in the eyes,
             so I sweat away these thoughts of some sort of company.
I’m standing on the side of the road and the cars pulling up are telling me
             they’re going to Jerusalem.
Gabby tugs at my arm and tells me to stop hailing cars,
starts telling me stories of places far away, the places we’ll go together.
The heat drips onto us even in the night,
sweats the bottle in my hand even in the night,
wets the skin on Gabby’s face under damp lamp lights.
Gabby tells me everything is going to be alright, and for that moment I can believe her.
You’re going to be fine,
as I tightrope walk the highway paint, the highway lights, and stumble.
Under my breath I mumble things to myself I can’t understand,
the drunken mutterings that have entered my mind too early into the evening -- the makolets are disappearing.

I tell myself one day I’ll see them again. I tell Gabby, through bourbon breath, that I love the way it feels to breathe,
and I realize that she cannot understand. 
The rope I am walking stretches long and thin
and I don’t know if the lights that bloom twelve steps ahead of me
will go out. 
The bourbon bottle weighs a thousand pounds in my hand.
             I’m trying to find someone on the side of the road,
             but the desert land stretches like rubber bands, slings back,
             swings and stings me in the eyes,
             so I sweat away these thoughts of some sort of company.
I put the bottle on the concrete, it dings as it falls down.
The sound wakes me, makes me realize my hand is shaking. 
It takes me a moment to realize I’m angry.
Stupidly, I grip my own hand to stop the movement,
I keep walking, talking, occasionally falling -- my balance thrown off because
I’m holding myself.
Gabby’s voice is crawling along;
it is a dull murmur of a car passing on the road.

Suddenly, I want to leave that car behind, leave this murmuring mind, and run down the painted tightrope line until my sweat drowns out the dried paint.  But I have to reach each blazing streetlight before it blinks away!
The heat hazes in and out, a halo.  Home is not so far;
just, one car
A maze of rubber and lights,
lines of makolets criss-cross in my mind.

And Gabby runs behind.
             I’m trying to find someone on the side of the road
             and the cars pulling up are telling me
they’re going to Jerusalem.

 

image: Aviva LeShaw


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