Rebecca Lehmann

Once I apologized for apologizing too much.

What was there left to apologize for?

In the car, in the dark, your face in silhouette

as on a coin, struck against the country fields

we soldiered past, the fenced and muddy

cow yards where heifers humped each other

out of boredom. What if you broke a cow’s tail,

just snapped it? This was a story you told me

that one day no one would believe.

And as the night came on, I found Orion

with his lazy belt, loose, like the belt

your father beat you with when you needed

a correction, and I felt sorry for you,

though I was myself a child. Like a cheap

teardrop crystal I hung beside you,

reflecting every light back at you,

split by my prisms into rainbows,

and sorry I could not reflect more.

Sorry I could not refract a spectrum

rich enough to fill you up, struck

as you were by oncoming headlights

in the seat beside me, struck as I was

in your image. Struck, as you were,

by a belt, a broom handle, a hose,

a plain old hand. Stuck as I was

by the seatbelt, the car door, the velocity

at which we traveled home. No exiting

allowed. Sorry. Sorry. I’m sorry.

I disappeared in your story and in the dark

of that place I found a marshy wetland.

I found a repentant frog. I found a moth to pin

inside your chest. Thump thump. Thump thump.

As the car tires on the county road thump thumped.

As I was sorry I could not fill the swamp inside you.


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