This morning I imagine the sun going to sleep,
shoved into the back of the sky
under a galactic dump truck.
I drive old cars down into the canyons and collect
their parts. I sweep through asphalt and sand,
sometimes I find bits of shrapnel. I usually pocket
these for later. At noon when the heat is too much I go into the town.
When I was twelve I threw a towel onto the stove. It caught
fire and I hid under my bed with a sci-fi book. I tell this to the girl
I buy coffee from here, Lucia. She is Mexican and beautiful.
I wait a lot, thinking of how she would look in the backseat
of my car and how I would look on top of her in the back-
seat of my car. I think one third of life is anticipating failure.
Another third is avoiding failure. The last third is sleep.
I would like for Lucia to sleep with me.
I meet a man in the cafe who is driving to Tulum
in the morning. I figure, why not. Lucia doesn’t really understand
English. A lizard crawls down the wall and I imagine it in my pocket
squishing around with the soggy matches. The man smells
like hot grease and is sweating. He eyes Lucia and I
do not like this. I say nothing. There is no point counting
regret with notches in a wall.
We drive for an hour along the flooded road in a peeling pick-
up. The man tries to talk to me in broken English, and I attempt
to respond in broken Spanish. Eventually we listen to latin music
buzzing with static. In Tulum we go to the beach. I collect shells
to go with my car parts. I think about giving Lucia one that looks
like a tiger’s eye. The man fishes from some rocks. The sun
is like it usually is at its nexus, climbing our foreheads and pushing
us closer to the earth.
Is there a reason the man asked me to go to Tulum? I wonder
if he collects anything like I do. Stamps, animal skins, antique
weapons – something must be precious to him. I consider showing Lucia
my collection, telling her something I tell no one else. I wait
for the man to come up to me with his fish, ready to gut them
right here on the beach. I take a knife from him. This repetitive motion
of parting is like the tides. I think of carving Lucia’s name in washed-up
wood and taking a swim before we drive back.
Angela Sundstrom received her MFA in poetry from The New School in NYC. She freelances book reviews for Time Out New York and her poetry has been featured on The Best American Poetry blog. She currently works for Mother Jones magazine and may have carpal tunnel syndrome.