On Easter, the mustard guts of butterflies hallelujahing the windshield,
we chew down the highway—past the city, past the pigeons’ saint faces
& the low-lying hills like my mother’s god’s knuckles rising beneath a jade
bedsheet—so while we move at a hollering clip, Mike driving his mouth
& his car the same horsepower, tires preaching a sermon of concrete,
I stay quiet. Quiet is the jaw’s prayer. The day we met, he showed me
his new Beamer—bumper like a broken nose, fender painted pink.
Above the parking lot, the day moon slipping down the crystal spiral
staircase of the afternoon. He gunned it & we flew—O courage,
I’m addressing you: after the hospital, I swore I’d never ride with him.
I swore the pitch of his pleasure wouldn’t keep me at my own jaw’s
work of timid faith. Now, as we pass a lumber farm, helpless under
the timber of his words, I cleave a quiet grain. Courage, pluck the prayer
from my jaw like a splinter, sharp & thin, so I may learn to speak again.
NICK MARTINO is a poet and teacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work is published in or forthcoming from Washington Square Review, Southeast Review, Frontier Poetry, Fugue, Meridian, and Sugar House Review, among others. The poetry editor of Faultline Journal, he lives in LA.
The art published alongside this poem is by Anna Buckley.