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Inside that sixteen-wheeler sits a man
who is finishing up his dissertation.
He’s working in the company of
metal, gasoline, and diner receipts.
Sadly, his dictionary took off at El Paso
and his lecture notes went missing after Albuquerque.
What he’s relying on are fragmented memories
and phrases. They’ve been packaged, labeled,
and transported over the years.
The thesis is due the next morning,
once the professor has had her oatmeal and cranberry juice.
Conversing sensibly with a man from a movie.
She’s wearing those tiny slippers. The same ones
you remember she wore when she would peak in
through your bedroom door. He listens to Goodnight Moon
on the radio. He was a child once.
He played with trucks. Toy ones. Endlessly rubbing
Matchbox wheels against the linoleum floor. Burning happiness.
Dad’s half-empty above
and Mom’s calendar with a spring dress on to the left.
She’s been waiting to hear it. His dissertation.
It’s been 42 years in the making,
each year growing with more significance.
The driver turns on his high beams. They light the whole road.
Marigold leaves quilted together shiver as he passes by.
He arranges his thoughts in a bouquet,
every gardenia speaking in unison, “I love you.”