Reproduced by permission of the artist, Max Ferguson.
Not the Patsy Cline. Too clichéd. Even as crazy as it’s been. Ever since the summer. It’s creeping past midnight. The bus is waiting outside. The driver just called out we’ve five minutes to departure. Then I’d better not risk Bohemian Rhapsody. Not the KD Laing either. Too close to the bone, as they say.
So you won’t be coming after all. No Thelma and Louise. No Kathy on a Greyhound Bus looking for America.
It was good of you to let me know. To call me up. Not just to leave a text with an unsmiley face. At least I got to hear your voice. To sense how sad you are. You said you were sorry. That you had your bags packed and ready. You’d even left the note on the mantelpiece for your husband. So like you. So old school. You said you’ve already shredded that message. Mixed it in the recycling bin with the empty dogfood tins and milk bottles. Like our love, I replied, with a timid attempt at irony. You even said “in the final analysis” (words you often use in your English classes), when you told me you couldn’t bear to leave the kids behind. Remember that magical weekend at the beach when you said the time was right? That the twins’d soon be off to college. That our moment had come. Maybe there’s more to leaving behind than leaving behind.
If this was a movie then I’d be playing “our song”. To heighten the scene. To match the mood. But I’m not sure we have a song. So it’s no go to country, there’s no need for blues, more like dancing in the street in my blue suede shoes. You see. It’s okay. You taught me poetry. You showed me how stories can unfold. Strong powerful women. Carving out their own lives. Their own loves. I’d sat at the back of the class. My hair covering my face. But I hung on to your every word. Of Sylvia Plath. Of Sharon Olds. Of writers I’d never heard of. Adrienne Rich. Eileen Myles. June Jordan. I hid behind the veil of my own curls. Catching glimpses of your beauty. Your body. And through the flames I felt desire ignite. I swooned at the sound of your voice. When you read from Orlando and told us of the magnificence of the Bloomsbury set. The wolves and bells aringing. Lust and loving in long lush English meadows. Of rolling hills and misty heathlands.
You mightn’t be beside me on the bus. But it was you who set me on this journey. Opened up the frontiers of a life unimagined. California dreaming. Like I’ve dreamt every night since you told me to dream a little dream of you.
So don’t be sad, my love. Hey, maybe I’ll find us a song. To be our song. And I’ll sing it. On the road. All the way through the night to San Francisco. With flowers in my hair.