Reply Hazy Try Again


Driving west on I-90, across South DakotaÕs wide hips.  The summer tourists had returned home to harvest their fall Post-it notes, while I was restless, drawn to the hush and shadow of the BadlandsÕ spires; to the prehistoric Chartres of the Great Plains.  Only the steady tremor of a Harley flathead dared follow me into the cathedralÕs nave.  Probably an old-timer, Hippie Appleseed roused from his Sturgis slumber.  Or maybe another pilgrim, like me, hoping to commune alone.  I released my cruise control, let the full-throated vroom catch up to me, let it penetrate my loins. The engineer was a Mozart of hypnotic motor tones.


When the bike came into mirror range I wondered if IÕd misread the cues.  The husky exhaust sounds, the polished body and chrome, didnÕt jibe with the careless boy piloting the bike.  He was fifteen, tops.  Jacketless.  Unfastened boots.  Sporting a Magic 8 Ball helmet.  A weird juxtaposition.  And a little frightening considering the boyÕs erratic steering, his novice yank of the wishbone.  The Harley was something new in his life, perhaps something bequeathed, a surprise gift he was in no way prepared to receive.


As he passed me I observed his unanchored face.  Too much like my brotherÕs in those first hours after MaÕs death.  When weÕd regressed, taken refuge in our adolescent beach haunt, sipped cherry schnapps and watched helplessly as a storm lashed Lake SuperiorÕs back.  When lightning flashed close to shore heÕd said, ÒLetÕs swim into it.Ó  Our heartbeats were synched in grief.  I knew what he meant.  MaÕs illness had been long, unmerciful.  Why wait for a bobbing shark eye to conscript our fate?  Why not end the suspense?  The urge was strong, to let go, to quietly slip off NoahÕs raft.  How had we resisted the temptation?  I couldnÕt recall.  I wanted to warn the Harley boy, tell him not to roll the dice.  But he was already beyond my reach, in an off-road dustcloud, deep in his own story arc.



© Maureen Kingston


Maureen Kingston is an assistant editor at The Centrifugal Eye. Her poems and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Gargoyle, Gone Lawn, Gutter Eloquence Magazine, Stoneboat, Stone Highway Review, Tattoo Highway, and Third Wednesday.