We both know what it is to love a syllable, to let its ghost weight loom tongue-laid, bait for a fricative we fish for as night purples day. It’s Nashville and it’s late and I’m searching for a song that might stifle the fog burning both my vision and the Batman-winged building, the one you always ask if we’ll be visiting. So it’s on I-40 when it hits me: we might draw from the same lexicon, but you use words for honesty, and me? mockery, lies involving superheroes’ lodgings, rage, ocean-lunged shrieks.
Where’s the Sinatra? the Bach? the Subaru soiled copy of Rankine? the sonnets from Frost? In another life, another sedan, I swerve down this same onramp, wet mango tobacco wrap slit on my lap, 30 cent wing night my only plan. I slip in Lil Kim and rap about my pussy, telling myself a good beat and hypersexuality suffices as therapy. Only now your eyes seek mine out, Nashville shriveling as we head south, and I know your monotony won’t be solved by Kim going off about Glocks and hush money. How about Sesame Street ABCs? you whine, annoyed that your mom/DJ is taking too much time.
A YouTube click and Kermit appears on the screen, belting off the alphabet in every musical possibility. And though I’m unsure if it’s the Muppet’s jovial spirit or just that they’ve turned a familiar pattern delicious, but suddenly we both are mountain-loud, booming the letters with the windows down, relishing the O as it draws out, the sing-along refrain which always promises another round.
Alexa Doran is currently working on her PhD in Poetry at Florida State University. Her full-length collection DM Me, Mother Darling won the 2020 May Sarton Poetry Prize and will be published by Bauhan Publishing in Spring 2021. She is also the author of the chapbook Nightsink, Faucet Me a Lullaby (Bottlecap Press 2019). You can look for work from Doran in recent or upcoming issues of Passages North, Literary Mama, THE BOILER, and Harvard Review, among others. For a full list of her publications, awards, and interviews please visit her website at alexadoran.com