Rachel Button: Long Distance I

Iowa: Beside cornfields, you bicycle, corduroy sweeping
spokes, tuffs of blond blowing,
glasses fogged by cold. You’re on your way

home to blend basil
for pesto. I imagine you cross-legged, stooped
over a ceramic plate, coffee-table strewn
with bent-book spines, window panes painted floral with frost.

*

3,000 miles away I sit by Puget Sound
a pacific pathway weaving
through Olympic peninsula mountains,
I leave my prints
on the shattered shells
of oysters.

I cut through backyards to walk
where a river laces
the beach brackish.

*

Estuary: where fresh and saltwater meet.

*

Salmon come here to spawn
and die.
The return to fresh water corrodes their bodies.  In spring rot
rises from river beds,
skins and scales pile on the shore
but now the beach smells muddy.

I tuck against driftwood

*

No one knows where I am.

I stay until the sun slips under the Sound
and imagine you bedbound
sweeping teeth with black licorice
toothpaste, bare feet arched, blue pajama
bottoms dragging on the basement floor.
I picture us

brushing teeth shoulder-to-shoulder
in the bathroom mirror, lowering our bodies
onto the mattress, setting the alarm on your cell phone,

tucking torsos together,
the scratchiness of your stumble
the softness of your stomach.

We’re too old and too young
transients with cluttered cars and mismatched coffee cups.
Not quite ready to move upstream.



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