| Amanda Leal |

We ribbon through the Blue Ridge Parkway, in the backseat

of Laura’s Honda Element, fragments of rainbows bouncing

from the crystal dangling on the rearview mirror, pink surgical masks

face up on the dashboard, like flowers unfolding,

or my life, gradually, falling open.

The sawtooth of the mountains rises

with my boyfriend’s finger, as he points them out to me,

as though he pulls their blunt gray shapes to their position

against the sky. He thrusts his cold hands between my thighs,

and I think of my son, at home with his father for the weekend,

how I would hold him on my lap right now,

my arms around his bubble jacket, and press my cheek to his golden curls,

blazing in the glow of the sunset. Even at the Overlook,

I see everything through his eyes — the craggy rocks stacked

like books on the west side of the road, the frost in the grass

that crepitates beneath our sneakers, the naked arms of the birch trees

against the blue, humming mountains. Spray paint marks

the damp wooden barricade, reading: TELL THE TRUTH,

as though it can be hidden in a place so open, the thin air

spiriting from my mouth as vapor. Suddenly, I realize

how grateful I am that I left my son’s father,

that I dismantled his depression as a weight I had to carry,

his dark eyes, deep set in his skull as though pushed in

by someone’s thumbs, still watching with judgment,

the ingratitude he would have felt even here,

where the final light of day brims upon the shoulders

of the mountains. I imagine my son, being held in his arms

rather than mine, his eyes that match his father’s,

but growing more understanding each day,

like a river that accumulates sediment.

I can still feel his padded hands in my fingers,

how they will be waiting when we reunite,

as the sun seems to set from the ground up, darkness creeping

up the skirts of the mountains, my boyfriend’s red beard

that drains of color, as we turn to one another,

our breaths falling from our lips like smoke.

Amanda Leal is a 28 year old poet from Lake Worth FL. Her work has been
featured or is forthcoming in issues of Levee Magazine, Sky Island Journal,
Pine Row Press
, and others.

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