Checkpoint

by Larry Narron

You roll down your window
a half mile before
 
we reach it, braking so gently
I don’t even notice
 
what a sloppy drunk
this wind has become—
 
now too dizzy to dance
with the brand-new Betty
 
Boop bobblehead
I bought for your birthday.
 
You tell me moments
like these make you feel
 
as if you’re taken
about as seriously
 
as your favorite cartoon—
all just tits & ass
 
& a voice people only
know for its pitch.
 
But you seem to be doing
just fine as you pull
 
us soberly into the checkpoint,
holding your own
 
hands frozen
despite how they
 
must burn, your fingers
strangling the wheel
 
to keep them from slipping
away from the layer
 
of sweat I just noticed
dripping
 
down all the hours
below ten & two.
 
It’s shocking to watch you
focus your gaze
 
enough to melt a hole
in the dashboard
 
big enough for both
your eyes to crawl into
 
as the agent’s pocked,
round face drifts
 
into the frame of your window
dragging its shadow
 
behind it—a caricature
of the moon, wearing
 
sunglasses, grinning
as it comes in close
 
enough to unroll a cartoon
tongue like a carpet right over you.
 
Despite the crater
it has for a mouth, the moon
 
says nothing as we
both hold our breath
 
& watch as it slowly pushes
itself all the way
 
into the car,
near enough to brush
 
your neck
with the tip
 
of its crescent.
The moon rotates
 
to stare me down as the silver
gravity of its shades
 
fully eclipses your knees,
tugs wrinkled tides
 
up from the blue
polka dots of your skirt,
 
hauling its shadow
over the valley
 
your legs make out of your lap
as it continues to trace
 
the path of its orbit
all the way to
 
the passenger side of the cab.
Though I still
 
have a voice,
I have no words
 
when the moon’s mouth drips
& says,
 
Does your girlfriend
speak any English at all?

Larry Narron grew up in San Diego County and studied English and creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley, where he attended Joyce Carol Oates’s short fiction workshop and was awarded the Dorothy Rosenberg Memorial Prize in Lyric Poetry. His poems have appeared in Phoebe, The Brooklyn Review, Santa Clara Review, The Boiler, The Tishman Review, and elsewhere, and they have been nominated for the Best of the Net and Best New Poets.