Message on the Answering Machine

At 17, we stood close to the edge
of the tracks as the train tore past us,
engine shredding the wind,
my heart throbbing against death so near.
I held the fear in my lungs
so you wouldn’t smell it on my breath.
You loved the fast kick of blood in the veins,
the adrenaline rush that tested
my pale cheeks with patches of pink.
At Lake Calhoun, the headlights
speckled the highway
as we kissed our way from car to shore.

We swam out to the floating dock
and I watched you dive from center stage
while I pawed waves and swallowed water.

Years later, my courage thinning
with each bite of yesterday,
the sighs of reality fall like dust
and settle, a quiet inside me.

You still have sex in parking lots
as if the temporary thrill
can drill a tunnel, a secret escape.
I will marry tomorrow, settle down.
You leave a message on my machine
“Don’t do it”.

3 comments

  1. Kerri,

    “At 17, we stood close to the edge
    of the tracks as the train tore past us,
    engine shredding the wind,
    my heart throbbing against death so near.
    I held the fear in my lungs”

    Reading those words makes the heart beat faster.
    I can only imagine what it felt like up close and
    personal.

    “I will marry tomorrow, settle down.”

    Again you manage to pack a trunk load of emotions
    in a few words.

    “You leave a message on my machine
    “Don’t do it”.”

    Sometimes the male of the species is slow to grow up.
    Sometimes they never do.

    This poem paints and era and the reader experiences it.
    Brava!

    Sarah

    Like

  2. Hi Kerri

    What an intense and beautifully written poem that expresses that restless and often reckless aspect of our human nature, especially when we are young. There is always that person who dares existence, defies the odds to an extreme extent and the other person who is there watching and wondering. These lines captivate the sense of fear and yet excitement such a scene or experience summons

    as the train tore past us,
    engine shredding the wind,
    my heart throbbing against death so near.
    I held the fear in my lungs

    that line of ” engine shredding the wind” is like a machine that shreds the breath of life, the long fate of someone’s existence. I am there with you feeling the fear rise and the moment intensify.

    Years later, my courage thinning
    with each bite of yesterday,
    the sighs of reality fall like dust
    and settle, a quiet inside me.

    And it’s always “years later” when we fully realize the depth of the peril and how close death hovered around us. These lines are both poignant and biting in their own way, allowing the reader to feel something familiar about the act of daring and its long-lingering effect. The quiet comes with wisdom and reflection.

    And that last strophe with the message on the answering machine ,makes the poem haunt in the best possible way. It is a perfect ending with such wonderful impact on the reader and the whole context of the poem. I shiver when reading it and that is a good thing that a great poem makes its reader do!

    Thank you for sharing,
    so finely crafted , this one!~
    Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

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