Hour East of the City

nanya jhingran

Driving to the Cascades, morning’s signature yolk

           remains intact, wends along in my passenger side

                        window. You ask for music, I put on Mitski,

                                     our bass-tugged transport swerves resolute

                                                  into this gray between steel and shale. At

Snoqualmie falls, you step away to take your friend’s

            call. Leaning on the handrail, I want to part the stubborn

                        curtain, look in its eye this cataract, caress the cliff’s dark

                                     cushion of moss. You come back, realize we’ve fallen

                                                  prey to common misunderstandings involving the names

of places. An hour further, then, to Snoqualmie Pass,

           windows rolled down to the faint scrapings of mist moving

                        through the Douglas Firs. Meeting your friend in a strip mall

                                     parking lot across from ski lifts halted midway, their poles

                                                   summer-brushed at the feet, I hold your hand but can’t

peel my sight from the mountains surrounding us in

           all the near distances. An enormous cloud has spilled

                        quietly across the dark green alps rising beyond the shoulders

                                     of our new acquaintances. I’m reaching for the forest floor,

invisible distance swallowed into the cloud, all that

           entangled breathing. Fog moving through the needle-

                        point canopy obscures the lines marking sky against

                                     ground. Then in a twig’s snap, in the parking lot,

                                                  holding your hand, being introduced by your friend

to his friends as your wife. I want know who they see.

           The forest is being obnoxious, begging to be a metaphor,

                        so I say sure, why not, this is a sort of clouding over. That’s not

                                     it though, not exactly. Yes, there’s more paperwork still

                                                  to be filed, that’s part of it. But standing there, fog-washed,

I wonder if a wife is a sort of guarantee, and where

           that puts me and my annoying obsession with obscurity.

                        At the diner, we share pancakes and split the check.

                                       The clouds, being weather, ride off with the wind,



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