Various and Sundry Poetry

sweetest relief


It’s not just that she gets me, I wrote
to Jeanette, who lives in Phoenix,
on the way down to New York, in a text message
on the Peter Pan bus with spotty reception,
next to Abby, who has lived on the Upper West Side
for five years and was complaining about the lack
of signage at the Springfield terminal.
Jeanette had written to say, damn I miss you,
and then “what have you been up to?” which is not an easy
thing to explain on the tiny keyboard of a mobile phone.
“Love, baby,” I wrote back. “I feel like I found
a needle in a haystack.” I hoped I wasn’t inadvertently rubbing it in –
I knew Jeanette had been in her own stew of second-guessing,
something gone sour these past months, but I
couldn’t help it. I was gushing. “So lucky,”
I continued. Jeanette wrote back,
“That made me teary.” And then, “It’s no small thing”
and “So very rare,” and I said yes , it was. “But it’s not just
that she gets me,” I tapped on as the bus pulled into Hartford
and I saw the line at the terminal, bare shoulders shiny
from the heat, couples bearing weekend luggage and taking
drowsy pulls from water bottles. I felt, suddenly, quite gluttonous,
full of bright, buttery love for the whole world. “It’s that she likes me,”
I wrote, even though there was no way to do the italics. But Jeanette
is a smart cookie. “Grab hold of it and let it take you,” I read
and the bus pulled out with something between a sigh and squeal
and a moan. “Yes,” I wrote back, because there was nothing left to say.
The air conditioning kicked on again, the sweetest relief,
and we all settled back in our seats, bags stowed,
as the bus made the turn to the highway heading west,
then south, New York on the near horizon, so close
I could almost see her hands stretching toward me,
beckoning.