Letter from American Airspace

By ELIZABETH A. I. POWELL

 

The end of romance was what the teenage girl
was telling you about on a bench in the Jardin
in San Miguel de Allende, giving you T.M.I.,
but you realized she might need a Father who is not in heaven.
She gasps: Tinder is even sleazier in Mexico, how could it be
nostalgic? You listened, like your poems do when you write
them down in the cafes of Kerouac’s time here. You are Angelico
Americano with Instagram—troubled children of your own back home.
You are the only man I know who seriously loves his wife. Dios mio.
Right now this makes you the best volta in any sonnet. Yearning
is a kind of loss, a desire that’s never filled. It is the drunk to his drink.
Never enough. Victim or victorious? Chasing yearning, I have discerned,
is like chasing a kind of poison. The Popol Vuh says in the beginning
there were corn people here and love was a YES at every turn against
death. The end of romance knows this, no love letters, no mysteries,
holding out for another swipe, like a pull at the casino. The sun texts
it’s setting over the city. Back home children shoot other children.
Screens in every face. Savagery in the invisible, the Holy Ghost
weeping over new desires. My young female friend told me how nuclear
her hook ups are, how they like to choke and f*ck. Isn’t it not romantic.
My hairdresser confirms the same story. I think I am lonelier
than lonely, for which there is no word or Proustian reference. I drown
and swoon in Mariachi music with no relief. May tenderness deliver
us. Maybe the only recall I have is this: You are home from Afghanistan,
telling me of the surgical tents, where the world is like triage and you order
the grunts to lay it down, those who are the chorus screaming: unfuck it, unfuck this.

Elizabeth A. I. Powell is the author of three books of poems, including Atomizer, forthcoming from LSU Press. Her second book of poems, Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances, was named one of the “Books We Love 2016” by The New Yorker. Her novel, Concerning the Holy Ghost’s Interpretation of J. Crew Catalogues, was published in 2019 in the U.K. She is editor of Green Mountains Review and associate professor of creative writing at Northern Vermont University.

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Letter from American Airspace

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