Ikko (Ikko Narahara), "Windshield with Tiger Mascot," 1972. From the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. © 2016 Ikko Narahara.

Filthy as 12-bar, filthy as a stuttering key in the hazy
Door lock at 4 a.m. Filthy as I don’t know what it means to love

You. Out in the country there’s no fence to speak of—there’s just
The blonde path, wide enough for a truck, a truck wide enough

For two bodies to ride restlessly beside one another without
Ever touching. There’s no fence to speak of, just various dusks &

I’m in love with the dust that kicks up—I’m in love with what
A dirt road does to a truck. There’s no edge of the woods—there’s just

The blonde path stretching out of the dark green like a
Leg bone, a radio dial catching a hit of station before

Moving on past into the static. Two girls ride ruthlessly
Beside one another—one filthy as a story, the other filthy

As a storyteller. One girl might leave a trail of crumbs
Behind her. One might leave a line of poured-out gasoline.

Old evening air the way warm soda tastes like a hangover,
A long drive in July. I got plenty of time. You got light in your eyes.

It’s all the middle of nowhere. When the music stops, everybody
Scatters, even the light—an embarrassment of a sunset, really, &

Why even talk about the stars as if we still care about them
In the off-hours, when we’re not confessing to the dead?

These girls wore each other, is what I mean. Passed out in
Each other’s shoes, passed the ends of sentences from one to

The other like taking belts of whiskey out the bottle. One
Night one girl waves goodbye to the other & the empty fifth

She leaves in my hand is where the story turns dark, is where
I stick myself against the story flush as a wheat-paste poster,

Contact-printing my body back onto itself, a decade delayed. Love,
This is where the joke begins: one girl’s gotten gone. Her brother

Walks into a bar to deliver the punch line, & the other girl doubles
Over—An inside job. See, you got to be able to fall, for there to be

An edge—see the bar in waves, the doubled stars in waves, all just
Frosting on a cold cake. Both girls breathless in their own bodies now.

Now, it’s a ruthless thing, to know what’s about to happen to
Someone who does not know what’s about to happen. One girl might

See years go by in waves of roadside signs, a trail of vein rise up
On the back of her hand before it begins to wind down the twin

Bones of her forearm. Two girls trailed each other, delivered one
Another from one year to the next, twinned until they wound down

To just one night. One girl might leave a line of salt in the dirt,
One a flush of dust, sifted into a river. What is there left to leave

When there’s no body to speak of? This is where the storyteller
Begins: I am trying to know what it means to love anyone

Else the way I meant to love her, the way a sweet tooth
Loves salt. Sugar, I used to know this place like the back

Of my papery hand. Now there’s just the blonde past,
A river oversaturated with roses & ash, a back way

Home, a way back to what there ever is to leave behind.
I am trying. The smell of fresh pine, the small task of rain

On a windshield, a drift like the bow of a single fiddle
Drawing itself across my collarbone, my lungs sinking & rising

Slow like sloppy keys in a deep octave, my heart resting dark
Like a gun in a glove box whenever I might need to lean for it.

I’ve paid some hush money to the unpaved path, the paved-
Over past, plucked up the door lock & parked two loose cigarettes

In the useless tape deck, then that small piece of quiet—after the click
Of the ignition but before the radio cuts on, the quarter glass

Coaxing in the scalene country air, yellowing its passengerless slant
Over half the truck’s bench seat, the angles catching nobody, missing it all

—What any girl with half a mind wanders out this way for, to take
As much of it in over & over & sure enough breathe it all the way out.

Amy Woolard

Amy Woolard is a writer and legal aid attorney working on juvenile justice, school discipline, and poverty policy issues in Virginia. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the University of Virginia School of Law. Her poems have appeared/are forthcoming in the Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Fence, and in the Best New Poets 2013 and 2015 anthologies, among others. She’s been awarded poetry prizes by Indiana Review and Puerto del Sol and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Amy’s essays have run on Slate, Pacific Standard, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.