Howie Faerstein

Certain we’d never find each other
I crouched    on a grassy knoll
peered down    at steady traffic

This happened before branding
before cell phones & remix
before shuffling    sampling

When I lost my lover in Kansas City—
                The week Maddy died of cancer
and I didn’t get to say goodbye
                The week of Katrina   
catastrophe in the Lower Ninth Ward—
                two cars traveling from Colorado to Massachusetts

Let’s say she was fixed on losing me
but I only felt         great apprehension

More anxious than when I took
my daughter & her cousin     to the circus      
in Madison Square Garden
                Manhattan      the sleazy 70s
Exiting at Times Square
seven year old Jonathan
needed to pee         right then
                Subway station bathroom
I held my daughter     scissored to my legs
Stood guard      arms crossed   
in front of the open stall

It was rush hour      when we separated
Actually it was terrifying
And she had our dog!
My parents were born    in the Pale
A century later    I’ve surpassed them
as American children are expected to do
                living beyond the pale
It’s been a gradual process
like the sea     taking back the land

I mistook her gray car    for a dozen others
The light was all wrong   & the sound
let’s say the sound was crazy
let’s say    louder than it had ever been

We’d left apricot trees     flourishing in scrub
flash floods in the arroyo     emus & forsaken llamas
street horses munched fruit    from overhanging limbs
dancing sandhill cranes     in the Bosqué
a polyphemous moth    brushed my hand

Beyond the Continental Divide
I understood    she wanted to stay with bison & mule deer
                My heart    beating in my mouth
During mummification
skilled embalmers would discard the brain
and return the heart to the body
                I felt myself drying up

When we lost each other in Kansas City—
                A week after the Battle of Haditha
                Another week of suicide bombings in Baghdad—
two cars traveling west to east

Behind the knoll      a once forested expanse
the wood sundered       slash piled five stories high
Maybe it was the outskirts of St. Louis where I lost her
Funny that I don’t remember
                how we finally found each other
She must’ve seen me    pulled over

The rest of the drive    without incident
except a cop flagging me down    for speeding
jack-knifed semi by a truck stop

We lived in New England    for two years
Our house had wainscotting    a screened porch
                and then
she headed back to Colorado
La Plata mountains  
high desert
open spaces   

Howie Faerstein’s Dreaming of the Rain in Brooklyn, was published in 2013 by Press 53 and a second collection, Googootz and Other Poems came out in 2018. His work can be found in numerous journals including Off the Coast, Rattle, upstreet, Mudfish, Verse Daily, About Place, Nixes Mate, and Connotation. He is a poetry editor of Cutthroat and lives in Florence, Massachusetts.