A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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June 2008, vol 4 no 2

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Colette Jonopulos


Leaving Her in Denver

September 9, 2007

It is all about driving her to Denver, then all about leaving her. And about the awkward embrace of someone not yet related, the man/child that loves our daughter. Between us: a woman we all name our own. Since we are turning away, since we are turning to leave, he is content.

Desert floor covered with new asphalt and rocks (later, we'll find the car's paint sandblasted like bad acne). Four trucks pass and retreat, leap-frogging us for miles. Three look like massive reptiles—hay-stacked beds covered with black tarps. One truck carries crushed cardboard—a box flies loose—cartwheels to a stop on the black tongue of a road leading home.

Highway 20, no rest stops. We pull into a turnout, make ham sandwiches, gnaw on stale pretzels. I walk away from the road, squat in dry brush, pee facing uphill, my sandals still splashed with urine.

At dusk, a tourist sign explains that Native Americans lived in the deep crevice between these mountains. I mentally rush past the usual questions: how did they bear the heat/what did they eat/how far away was their water source. Instead, I ask the falling light: did their daughters have glistening hair and thoughts like the wind?

on the telephone
her voice flutters
saying his name

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