Untitled Document

“Where I Turn Bad” by Michelle Bonczek

Spring 2008, Volume 32, Number 1

I start thinking of flammable material, the kind
  we buy cheap from India
        but then I remember my grandfather’s story
about a chapel carved out of salt. White steeple, white
  door, white people. We’ve been here way too long.
        So when the light changes, I speed
  until you and I glide
        over the freshly laid road, the smooth road
we fucked into existence, only you
  are not in the car and the white line that splits
the road in half, reminds me of how
  we cannot live without salt. But this all has to do
        with the road. I light a cigarette, change
the subject, only I do not have cigarettes
  and don’t smoke. The road is black
        like someone else’s lungs. The cilia grow
hard, like art, from the tar. Sculptures, scars, bread. The road.
  The turn I made at the light is illegal. But it’s the one
        that brought me
to you. I’m illegal not because I’m too young
  or because I’m a virgin in some country
        where virginity is collateral for land, or wine,
or salt, a country in which you are not a king or a pirate
  washed ashore a beach whose shells tongue your ear
        when you’re not listening.

You don’t kiss me because of this,
  only you do and I like it and I kiss you back, which is how
        we get the road. The smooth one. A story
about our lips and our legs entwining like jelly forms.
  My tongue licks your salt
        like a deer. Shhh. I’d be hunted and stoned to death
should they hear, as this culture is not one
  in which this would happen, but one in which a woman
        can be arrested for carrying too many
vibrators on a Texas highway. Good thing
  I took the one out of the glove box. Pass the bread. Here, I offer you my wrist,
soft as yours, see, curved as a doe
trust me. Though you have and I’ve broken it.
  Not the wrist. The trust. But
you know what I mean. In the distance, September
  burns maples into rubies and gold.
        If you follow
my wrist to my finger, you will see me
  pointing in a different direction toward a sky
        tossing and turning in diamonds.
This is the way
  I am going.
              Hold out your thumb
before I change my mind, before the road turns.

Michelle Bonczek teaches poetry, literature, and women’s studies at Western Michigan University where she is a Ph.D. Candidate in Creative Writing. In Fall 2007 Sage Hill Press released Writing Assignments: The Book, which she co-authored with the editors of Redactions: Poetry & Poetics, a literary journal she co-founded and co-edits www.redactions.com. She completed an MFA at Eastern Washington University, and an M.A. from SUNY Brockport. Her poems, nominated for a Pushcart Prize, are forthcoming in Green Mountains Review, Puerto Del Sol, and 50/50.


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