Passing through Galveston
Memories of highways,
truckstops and trailer parks,
when I kept you moving, moving,
in those wide-eyed delicate years,
with your trusting blond head,
your bag of dolls, fatherless.
What chance did you ever have?
Misfortune of a teenage mother, me
full of juvenile incompetence,
one shitty boyfriend after another,
food stamps, social workers. I tried,
kid, I tried, while you deserved
swingsets, playdates, dance classes;
you know, decent foundations.
What have I ever given you, except
the skill of packing a bag, the art
of running? Economy of subsisting
on a pack of fettucine noodles for a week?
I keep going back to that Texan café,
during our last cross-country escape,
us two in a cracked vinyl booth,
surrounded by truckers in worn jeans,
as I taught you how to blow bubbles
in your milk glass—the happy puff
of your face over the straw, how the sun
lit up your hair. If only I could pass back
through Galveston, beyond that day,
to rewire your youth, to fix California,
Colorado, our days on the road: no excuse,
that I was just a kid myself. Now I watch you
with your daughters, with your stable life,
your kind and firm ways, natural mothering.
Planted in one spot, flourishing like a flower
in a sunny window, like all my wishes come true.
Beautiful girl, I wonder, how you ever beat my odds.
*Note: This poem also appears in Deuce Coupe 6/11: