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i tell you, in your car

Updated: Mar 30, 2023

Source: Unsplash

we are a matchbox of little hazards ; sprinkles of sodium catapulting their way off the diving board of our McDonald’s fry boxes onto the banged-up windshield, how ; you press your body firmly across mine to thumb ; the dashboard CD player ; Jesus, will this darn thing turn on already! ; how i sink teeth into my heat-vacuum cheek instead of your whorled thumbprints ; a notched love letter waiting for the summer, resting ; her endless miles of bare limbs, flushed elbows & sleepy eyes, against 99 degree Fahrenheit glass, waiting for ; that summer of apocalypse, of Chinese take-out boxes molding in the back, that summer of roaring road-trip ; Put some Ethel Cain on, will you? ; that summer of my mother's perfume ; sweet-sweet girl ; that summer of shrilling sting of guitar string ; summer where i reach into the Schiele-shock of tousled black gel-slick hair & baby blonde feather down burnin’ down the highway ; convert ; alter us into angels with screwed-up wings ; it’s from that fire-season accident six years back, do you remember? that ; in your car, we’re always closer to God ; hollowed shell of an old church, altar-girl, altar-girl ; than the Pacific coast less than 2 hours & a right-side lane ride away from us ; I forget where we are on a map sometimes. ; it’s not even California, where we sweat it out, we’re in the no man’s land ghost town backroad hometown nomad home ; hold me on the knife-edge of fleeing in your grimy backseat while the ; cranky old engine rattles underneath my scarred thighs ; summer of ; radio static reverberating through my wisdom teeth. an ache that’ll only cease with ; afternoon tarmac & late July shimmer ; peeling chilled baby fat out of our cheeks; Boom, it was just like that! ; my big-girl curls & dollar-store mascara punched out into an ash-sweltered Interstate 80 ; It’s like you call it summer of love & i call it summer of The End ; neither of us are right i’ll take a thousand three-credit air-conditioned auditorium lectures & still ; keep returning to you ; this moment ; to us. the music’s still yellin’ ; something about It was a highway to nowhere and we rode it / Cold car with no gas and we chose it. i’ll keep it playing ; for you.

**lyrics from God’s Country, Ethel Cain


Editor(s): Phoebe He, Blenda Yan, Alisha Burney


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