in love with a man i've idealized into a god, i drive his science experiment cross-country
Love swims us upstream and for me upstream is I-80 eastbound at seven thirty-nine A.M., no AC and dripping, the heat hanging around my sticky body like my voice echoing into the present from four days back: "But – I could deliver them!" Them – his flowers, next to me in the sci-fi greenhouse that's now squatting on the passenger side like a rectangular spaceship.
I imagine him jolting up from his textbook that day, years ago. Those eyes of his, miracle-green like Earth's seas and trees haloing the shadowed moon from behind, must have whirled in recall – this illness...its molecule...that plant – then assembly – and what if... – fixing, at last, on his vision: I will make a garden, a factory for a cure.
The flowers themselves are unassuming, slouching on their brown stems like shaggy dandelions, but he showed me the labwork and the chemistry's there: in all likelihood, the weeds I'm chauffeuring across the country are even now building compounds that are going to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
I have forty-three hours to go. I blinker, I lane-change, and I wonder what he's up to: is he nervous, imagining my little red car crumpled, the cutting from his breakthrough wilting in a ditch? No way in hell he trusts my driving, given that every time it was him in the passenger seat I'd almost run a red or rear-end somebody because I was too busy being grateful for him, too distracted marveling at what he said and trying to stash each of his sentences away in my memory like seeds before winter.
I wonder if he told me how the lab bailed on him for shipping only because he knew I'd offer to make the trip myself. It must be obvious how stupidly I love him, and that's what I'd have done if I were in in his place – but what a silly thought! The truth is that I love him precisely because I'm not in his place. I know I shouldn't – but I'm trying to love away my defaults, to love myself into whichever version of me would shine the most like him.
Oh, I may be hell-lonely and less than I'd imagined by now but hey, at least I've got my sly, silent friends to keep me company: his genius-blooms, strapped in their glass haven in the passenger seat. Their fuzzy heads, fringed with promise, bop out the miles with me as we jam our way into the history of medicine to tune after tune off the playlist of songs I thought their creator might like.
Emma Alexandrov is keeping herself from dwelling too much on death by reading and writing poems, trying to figure out how to get computers to think, eating, and editing Windows Facing Windows Review. She's currently rooted in Atlanta, GA, Portland, OR, and Poughkeepsie, NY.