Lloyd skips the coffee.
Too bitter and black.
Makes his stomach churn.
He says out loud
“I need sugar, milk and honey.”
He’s in Indiana now.
Working at a wolf shelter with Cassandra.
She works with the animals.
Lloyd answer the phone, organizes paperwork.
He buys staples.
He ate twelve bagels in the last three days.
He ogles the past world through lenses,
refractions upon refractions,
his pulse is gone
when sifting through an old love letter
like the ones slipped in Cassandra’s unread novels,
like the one he finds
in the front of Cassandras next book,
words and letters from Laura,
falling into the brown waters of November
words that sounded true then, in his version.
Laura looked like a Playmobil figure.
White epoxyed skin
practice smiles hung with a level
though imperfect cylinders is what’s driving her engine.
Brushes, q-tips, scalpels and dabs,
mysterious things that plug in,
blushing white and tan
copsed survival skills tapped from a bad credit line,
and a magazine subscription from mother.
Laura has memories of rodeo clowns
and falling out of airplanes,
at least according to panic-heart Lloyd, as
he swallows his old wounds, finding himself sipping at Cassandra’s coffee.
He finds he doesn’t mind it.
The corresponding dead-end brooks
from his parent’s home in that mountain town,
where he fell in love,
with the long-distance champion
of swimming in shallow water.
It’s a daffy duck move, he knows,
to hold out for another form of settling
“when you’re already settled”
as Daniel would say.
There’s a drifting moon
emerging along the coast line.
Lloyd and Cassandra are driving on a very, very long bridge
connecting them across the Chesapeake,
all Lloyd sees is bridge and water
names not meaning much of anything,
they drive away from a grocery store home
and stacked bills beside stacking bill,
towards the true bill, blocking the sun
as it breaks on the water.
Laura was asleep beside her new man.
He saw a thimble filled with yellow dust
that she dumps in a wine carafe.
She thought the tapped line had legs,
a sign of quality, commitment,
but it’s just the alcohol evaporating
it’s just the air in the room evaporating,
“it’s just” Daniel begins, throwing
playing cards across the room
“the quality of life discerned
from sugar packets,
and bad advice from bad friends,
that they gleaned from their bad parents:
their whole internal recipe
could be covered with a stubby thumb.”
Daniel spoke like an angry monk.
And Lloyd reads the thoughts
through the eyes he’s never seen,
feeling the heart and soul evaporating,
finishing his fifth cup of black coffee
(he’s really started now)
that it’s the air in the cab evaporating.
He rolls down the windows.
The highway air,
breaking the stability apart,
and Lloyd looks across at Cassandra
still asleep in the passenger seat, smiling.
And Lloyd pushes a little harder on the gas
and closes his eyes and smiles too.