I wished I’d let you drive as the sky closed the lid on things. The headlights on the other side of the highway blurred to orbs as fuzzy as dandelions, my sight failing in the dark. But I was in a groove, wasn’t ready to stop again before we crossed the next state line. So when you spotted a barn—a black stamp licked and pressed against the midnight blue—I stopped you before you even began. We don’t have time for adventures. But this pattern continued, you straightening at each sighting of wood-rot, at every front barn door cracked open like a knife wound. Soon, I tired of the cornfields. Their sameness, the vanity with which they continued to spawn the self. So I indulged you, abandoned the highway’s smooth to spit gravel in the wake of your Jeep. When we pulled up to this barn, you dated its abandonment. At least 10, 15 years, because of the smile of the roof. The wind breezing through the barn’s gut, it’s cat-call whistle, and both sets of doors blown open. Your pulse two-stepped during our silent watching and I thought you were turned on by this somehow. And my God, you were. Let’s go in. Find some hay, like in the movies. And what of the pessimist in me? Betting on the rustic charm of disarray as a trap, some chainsaw wielding killer eyeing us from the cyclops window. Even you could go rogue, one bite of me giving way to another, then another. But you’ve gotten out of the car now, come around and opened my door. We’ll laugh about this years from now. Your hand in the dark not how I’ve always remembered it.
Taylor Byas is a Black poet and essayist from Chicago. She is currently a second year PhD student at the University of Cincinnati and the Poetry Editor for Flypaper Lit.