CROSSING THE GAP
Try asking Ernie Watts, a local bricklayer,
to explain how after a long day of work
and league night at the Lucky Strike
he can glide across the kitchen floor,
Old Style hovering like a ghost on his breath,
bowling shoes slung over one shoulder
singing fly me to the moon to his wife Cheryl.
And when he dips her over the linoleum
like it was their first Homecoming all over again,
ask him to put into words what that sinking is,
that shudder in his chest, as he notices
the wrinkles gathering at the corners of her mouth.
He’d rather tell you about the time they rode
the Tail of the Dragon the year after they’d married,
crossing Deals Gap at the Tennessee state line
on his ’77 Triumph Silver Jubilee.
How they heard talk of a young couple
dying on that same stretch of road a week before,
and how hard she held onto him that day—
curve, after potentially deadly curve.
Afterwards, in bed, she’ll reach for the Virginia Slims
on the nightstand, and he’ll open
the windows behind the headboard
as a summer breeze creeps past the lithesome curtains—
wild grass and honeysuckle mixing with the tobacco.
If the drone and flicker of a gathering storm should disrupt
the silence of the room, she’ll tighten the wing nut
of her body behind his, so close that when her lips
brush against the nearly imperceptible hairs
on the back of his neck he’ll be convinced
there’s no other life but this.
—from Rattle #31, Summer 2009
Travis Mossotti: “When I was nineteen years old, I sent out my first few batches of poems to some Missouri journals. Boulevard, River Styx, Pleiades, and a few local contests. Of course, the rejections were swift and mighty, and each one forced me to recognize: ‘I will be no prodigy. I will be no Keats.’ Oh bless the stars for those early rejections; they made me more diligent than a thousand publications.” (web)