Aubade From The Prison Visitation Bus
I wake up from a dream in which we lay
together in your vinyl cot, narrow as a birch
bark canoe—light and bound in spruce root,
the woodman’s wire. We sailed downriver
swept on by the broom of current, helpless
in the rapids, springing leaks. I dreamt a glue
of pitch, sap swirled into ash, spit I culled
from the dark of the tongue, painting seams
to keep the river from closing like a trap door
above our heads—but we survived the dream.
The bus lumbers us into a country of concrete
weather, blister grass. I watch a dead oak grow
overcast with seabirds. When our bus driver
throws his cigarette out the window, the bright
angel shatters on the pavement. Before I left
I packed the stars into a blunt to blue the air.
I live like this, surfacing an hour from my high,
a river made of tar, and diving under. Hunger
makes a pet of me, keeps me begging at its feet
for fevered, gulping, greedy relief. It’s good
to nurse a need that I can meet. That word
need, one bird different than desire, my branches
heavy with both. Beside me, a sleeping woman
holds a sleeping child. The sum of their sleep
stuns me. Is this feeling desire or need? All week
my high lifts me like a bride, until the hour
I can finally see you. Until the hour the stars
sink further into light, and I’m forced to leave.
Nick Martino is an MFA student in poetry at University of California, Irvine. Nominated for Best New Poets and Best of the Net, his work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Frontier Poetry, Meridian, Hobart, Five South, Carve Magazine, and Sugar House Review, among others. He lives in LA.