The Truck Driver's Husband: A Letter

after Ezra Pound, after Rihaku (Li Tai Po)

While Mom was still cropping me crewcut close,
I played around the trailer parks, in jeans
and hot-rod tee shirts, vandalizing all.
You used to swing by—swing your girlish hips—
smack your red lips off cherry Popsicles,
and say that I could just whip the weenie
forever. So we plagued that crazy place,
taunting the neighbors, pissed on and pissed off.

But we were married soon, when you got pregnant.
I was frightened, didn’t laugh for years.
I hired on at Smitty’s Gulf for peanuts—
pumped gas, changed oil, learned how to fix a car.
When you’d come down with Danny on your hip,
I wouldn’t look up from underneath the hood.

At twenty-six I wanted you forever.
Never sorry then, I stared away,
dreamed of the place I’d have with you, the home
where I would die someday, be carried out.

At thirty-eight you got your license, left
to drive a rig from Florida to Maine.
And you’ve been gone twelve months today. The semis
winding out at night still make me think.

I’m sober seven months and painted the house.
I wish you’d seen the garden here this year:
tons of tomatoes, four bushels of beans.
It hurts. I’m sorry now. My beard is peppered.
If you swing past and have some time to talk,
call me, please, and I’ll come out to meet
you, anywhere you like on I-95.

:: Patric Pepper, Temporary Apprehensions (2005)

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