In an Instant
“You could find a lover boy on every damn corner in town.”—Clyde Barrow to Bonnie Parker
At the Golden Spike Drive-In
during a quiet moment
in Bonnie and Clyde,
he sensed everything in her
was wrong. She had changed inside
her clothes, her eyes gone off somewhere.
He wanted to report an abduction, summon
red blood hounds, men in lemon glow vests,
or look for a torn fuselage, debris in air.
She peered through the windshield,
smoked her clove-scented cigarette
as if in another car, another movie,
a body double with no speaking part.
He rolled through puddled streets
turning without thought or plan
and wound into chambers
of darkness looking for her
black box, alert to the stir
or quaver of a pinger.
But nothing was out of place.
No one missing. No one lost.
His flagpole’s empty, snap locks clattering
in the wind. A lapsed Republican, he skips
breakfast and lets his yard sprout
spindly dandelions and minarets of thistle
while driveway cracks swell with pigweed.
He leaves Xmas lights dangling
from the eaves’ troughs all summer.
He can’t remember the mission statement.
Unshaved, he feels lax, too unjoined,
his alarm clock stuck on snooze.
In the backyard he sees in the cavity
of a rotting pear, ladybugs like beadwork.
He finds snake bones in a gutter,
thrips in the roses, and ant lions
in their pits of powdery dust.
He wants to talk about this and visits Aunt Jo
penned in her florid dementia.
He brings cinnamon rolls from HyVee
so she can lick away the icing
as she studies him. He hardly remembers
who she is, but needs someone to be kind to.
A little pink glistens in her faux abalone buttons.
“Are you a Kleinschmidt?” she says, sweetness
in the corners of her mouth. He considers
his business card, Rockwell Elite Bold,
but instead moves his hand toward hers.
Jamie Sullivan is the author of Pack of Lies, forthcoming from Main Street Rag. His poetry has appeared in Flyway, The Naugatuck River Review, and The Briar Cliff Review among other journals and anthologies. He teaches writing and literature at Mount Marty College.