by Cody Gates
Strapped to this lucky red test
we make up traditions
for the cattle crossings. You call a mattress
the wrong color, and tell your sister
that when you and I run away together
they won’t find us in Owens Valley.
they won’t find us.
I tried writing
to tell you that some windows don’t work.
Instead this store of maps
wheels in the air, comes down
like the heat,
like my body,
my desert body, the words I’d have given you
had I written,
the words I would
use to put you in
this poem, that you would stand, unpuzzled,
uninjected, saying “I love him,
“I don’t know him,
though not when he climbs the starry skies
or when he wheels.”
Cody Gates was born in San Bernardino, Calif. and teaches writing at UC Berkeley.