Lives in the shadow of the Diner sign,
his bed a shadowy blue neon 24/7.
Ain’t nothin’ much in Ludlow—Abe
sells gas and gives directions to tourists
travelling the infamous Route 66.
Just over the tracks, the house where he was raised.
Main house and staff house, nary a window between
them both. He parks there sometimes,
watches the train through the ruined doors,
front and back frames open to the odd fox
Abe had his first proper kiss in that staff house.
It was spring, the dry ground blossom-rich
with yellow flowers, cholla standing straight
and proud as always. And Mary, a compass
of thought and feeling across her sunlit face,
knew Abe’s loneliness; she was a friend first,
A sweet string of years, here and gone,
never forgotten. The streets go about their rhythms,
wind and weather mark the calendar, and every spring
the full moon bears the aching beauty of Mary,
her hand on his face as she kissed him one last time,
then boarded the train, the silhouette of her burning
through her thin flowered dress, lodging in his heart.
She runs miles each day.
Even when the clouds are fraught
with snow. Even when the sun
shoots arrows through eyes.
She runs as if escaping,
and in truth, she is.
Demons from old struggles
follow from her days
to her nightmares.
A couple shots of Cuervo Gold
buys a couple hours
of dreamless sleep,
before it starts again.
Her choice of road rises
into foothills while dust devils
rake the desert floor below.
She climbs the distance
ravens climb. Cactus gives way
to fir, fir gives way to rock,
and still she runs.
A quick wind creases the air,
warns her to turn around.
Look at the horses already
reined in and protected,
the cottonwoods darkening
with oncoming weather,
not oncoming night.
Go home the voice in her says,
before the storm comes.
Runoff hustling over river stones
makes a good run a trackless
pick-your-path and don’t stop run.
Daytime fright with no tequila,
go home. So she turns back.
She is driven but not unwise.
She hits her door. The alarm clock
of the desert’s slow and seamless hours
by Tobi Alfier
Tobi Alfier (Cogswell) is a multiple Pushcart nominee and multiple Best of the Net nominee. Her chapbook “Down Anstruther Way” (Scotland poems) was published by FutureCycle Press. Her full-length collection “Somewhere, Anywhere, Doesn’t Matter Where” was published by Aldrich Press. “Slices of Alice & Other Character Studies” was just published by Cholla Needles Press. She is co-editor of San Pedro River Review (www.bluehorsepress.com).