Today's poem is by Jennifer Givhan

The Back Roads

He is never ready when you pull up honking—
there's a brown leather jacket needs strutting,
hair needs slicking, though the wind
will blow it out of place. He appears
in his doorway, sexy, though he knows
you don't care about that kind of thing, not really.
He never asks why you don't ring the bell
& he never offers to pick you up —
this is how you've agreed on a life together.
Or it's the fairgrounds again, your ride has left
& the boy you were hoping to meet has found
another date. You're sitting on a bench outside
the swine barns figuring out what you'll
tell Mama when you call on a payphone —
when he walks up to you, the boy who'll
tie you in twenty-three knots of crazy
love before he gives you an out & you
take it. He's locked his keys in his car
so you wait with him for AAA & a metal rod
& there's wind-chill, your arms linked through
his hoodie pockets like an old-fashioned
hand muff. You won't see empty beer cans
rattling the backseat, not yet, for these
are the back roads, past horse corrals & stacks
of sweet alfalfa, sugar beets hulled & piled
toward sky like a white-sand mountain.
I want to tell you the back roads will get you there
faster, that they're a shortcut, & although they're not
on any map & unlit & ditch-bound & hairpin sharp
they're safe. They're not safe. You know this.
Joy is made for this: for getting up. For driving away.

Copyright © 2016 Jennifer Givhan All rights reserved
from Pleiades
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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