So Much More and Less
for Jack Myers
Imagine you’re the only guest in an empty motel. As you unpack your sweaters and underwear from the brocaded suitcase that used to be your mother’s, you find half a handful of loose pills have fallen out of the lining, IP 1780, vasodilators for blood pressure or angina. You don’t know whose they were or how they got there. Somehow you have reinjured your left shoulder. It’s freezing and moving fast into mountain shadow. Old enough to fear a heart attack, you’re ambivalent about the symptoms your father ignored. Tonight it’s a literary mystery and you’ve become the victim, the sleuth, maybe the guilty, or perhaps the ghost who can’t seem to tell his story without whimpering. Of course there’s no room service or mints on the pillow. The desk stopped answering calls when you checked in. When you twist for a cup of green tea on the night table, your shoulder turns into an electric jolt. It turns down as you bring the paper cup lower…an old injury come by to visit. The streets are starting to re-freeze the day’s thaw into a gigantic fingerprint; the whorls could hold a boot (yours). The highway out of town glints with ice. This is where you might expect to meet God, but no dice, it’s already the end of Sunday afternoon and guest preacher’s dog is barking dully from the pickup downshifting for lights two towns over. You’re going no further. Tonight you’re going to borrow a borrowed room with a tinny knocking in the wall by the window. Jack Myers appears where three deer had been foraging in the schoolyard no one uses anymore. Then he slips out from behind an Airstream resting on cement blocks moving cautiously as one of the town’s wild turkeys. Then he’s next to you wearing his shapeless moss green cardigan “I generally adjust my game down to the level of my opponents.” A soft collision barely drops in the side pocket, as if both of you are shooting eight-ball at Camelot Bowl & Billiards again. He offers constructive self-criticism like he’s stalling a mark. Jack’s brown eyes survey your life like freshly broken table. “Art is just an empty motel, you’re a guest, or work the nights.” It sounds enough like Jack, but you want his voice to be yours, or find his key on that red oblong holder, with “poem” instead of a room number. Wind tosses back translucent dust toward the swallowing sky. Jack apologizes, “Sorry I pretended to be your father so much. I couldn’t help it.” You can’t decide which disease you’ll die by tonight. The furnace kicks on like a water faucet dripping. You’ll find your place in the book you always read when you travel.