Finding Graceland


we drove through mountain passages
flattened country
rolled hay, truck stops
pulled over by the cops
sweet-talked and smiled
Thelma and Louise style

swallowed in green
embraced by highways
white lines
making time
going backwards

ephemeral, impetuous youth
you went west
I went east
ourselves in reverse
moving towards promises
overcome by instincts

we had the right soundtrack
Mamas and the Papas
going where we wanted to go
doing what we wanted to do
reading bumper sticker philosophy
giving it the finger

take your acronyms and politicking
shove it up your tailpipe
we’d rather be driving
we sang with windblown hair
knotted beyond care
the volume cranked

how stupid the cancer felt
blackening your breast
how it silenced my laughter
when the call came
flesh that molded and made me
carried around my elastic bones
turning on you

we would outrun disease
with trees and fields crashing in the
rearview mirror
tunneling through webbed leaves
nothing to catch us

never had I seen
so much of one color
a desert girl like me
afraid I wouldn’t breathe
in all that green
too thick, too heated
I’d lose my bearings
with no mountains to see
no compass to guide

Though how could I with you by my side?

we would be wind whipped
and reckless
see Graceland
shower in the glitter of a short-lived life
walk on pavement
sung with the blues
whispering street preachers
drunk with gospels

sit by the Tennessee River at night
gnaw on crawdaddies
spiced to numb our tongues, burn our fingers
watch the half eaten moon float above
the drowned stars
our toes churning silent baptisms

be called darlin’ and toss around ain’t
chew wads of gum and hit rest stops
race to stalls smelling of piss and cut grass
field flowers with no names
so thick words hung mid-air
ready to rearrange and tear
shred that phone call
the one that stole my words
crammed them into the back of my throat
sticking to the corners of my lungs
until they exhaled completely

I hit the gas
and we never stopped
not once to feel sorry for ourselves
not even when we blew past Graceland

– S S Hicks


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