December 21st, 2008

poetry, exceptindreams

370: What I Did

"What I Did"
Jim Daniels

What are you going to do
when your girlfriend's pregnant
neither of you have health
insurance or a decent job
and you've both been taking enough
drugs to kill a horse
or two?

What are you going to do
when she calls up from Wisconsin
three states away to tell you
she's pregnant, that she slipped
away the night before

she's telling you
and she's crying and she's telling you
she's going to the clinic
in the morning?

You know.
You know what you're going to do.
You're going to drive
your Plymouth Satellite all night
your head jangling
like the coins you use to call her
from rest stops to make sure
she'll wait
wait til you get there

drive all night to her sister's
in Madison and sit with her in the morning
wringing your hands and going over it
all again, slowly, and again

and you can't let yourself
think for more than a second
of the actual child
you might have together,
what you imagined while driving
when the cold air and darkness
when the lack of a radio
made all things possible

you kiss her and hold her
and wipe her nose
and wipe your nose
and you try to ignore
and not feel embarrassed by
the presence of her sister
silently circling the house.

What do you do? You drive her down
in the painful sun, the forced
squint, you pull out the wrinkled
wad of bills you conned
from friends half-gone in the bar,
you lick your fingers,
you count out your half.