August 19, 2022
by Lisa Trudeau
MIDLIFE CRISIS IN SANTA FE
At this altitude the Milky Way is loud and thick.
I understand why so many here believe in UFOs -
anything could emerge from that torrent of light.
I feel irrelevant, and afraid that skygazing could
trigger an episode of annihilating fantasy, send me
stardrunk to the mountain road, longboard in hand
though I am decades too old to ride skidding
through switchbacks lit only by midnight sky.
And where are you on these existential nights?
Working further west, and if I occupied an ER bed
you’d answer the phone but not come home.
The sky is beautiful here you’d say, not listening,
I drive into desert seeking alien
lights from a lithic rise scored with petroglyphs,
frequented by fanatics and curious hopefuls.
Though my faith is a sand-swept ruin I need to be
surrounded by the reaching energy of blind belief -
those beings nothing like our frail failed selves,
more perfect for being other, at home in far reaches
of nothing or infinitely more –
which I think are the same.
Head back neck stiff I track meteoroids strafing sky.
The first time I saw a shooting star was in Delphi,
certain the gods foretold a short but amplified life.
Tonight too many to portend anything short of
everything, a different nature of excess, riches
of patience in place. Life has been more common
than expected. Still, there is the crack and hiss
of uncountable stars. Why aren’t you here with me
to break the beauty of slow moments, hand on my back,
its pressure the pleasure of these long dull nows?
REFRAMING THE NARRATIVE
She laughs off my concern. Oh you take things to such extremes.
Her everyone-look-at-me smile still flicking dimples at eighty.
In the nearby woods an animal keens, shrill as a kettle.
For a moment we both listen, the sticky kitchen table between us.
A rabbit will scream if attacked, plead like a terrified child.
It’s true you always overreact. You always have.
Somewhere in this house are signs of another life – a box of ribbons,
a photograph of me on a black thoroughbred months before
the future unrailed, tangled hooves and chemistry.
Like when you partied too much and had to leave college.
The druggist knows the truth – dry mouth and tremors. I didn’t ride again
but finished school like a bronco buster, spurring through troughs,
gripping across high bucking arcs. The keening stops.
Psychiatrists make things up. You just drank too much.
Better an alcoholic than a nut. They always blame the mother.
You just drank too much. Doubling down to make it true.
Rabbit’s dead and a hungry something eats.
I peel my forearms from the vinyl tablecloth, kiss her cheek
So soon? go upstairs to my childhood bed. The night outside
quiet now. All the horses and rabbits in my head.
Lisa Trudeau is a former publishing professional and independent bookseller. She lives in Massachusetts. Her work has been published by or is forthcoming from Levee Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, The Shore, Constellations, Eastern Iowa Review, San Pedro River Review and Connecticut River Review among others.