Night Dodge

By Jill Leininger

Every philosopher I haven’t read is drunk and arguing
             in the same Dodge Chrysler. I swerve
to miss them, blinded in their sublime 60-mile-an-hour
             wake along the dotted divide. Looking back,
how odd! There was no way to distinguish one pipe from
             the other, Spinoza from Kant, yet I knew,
in the sudden, smoky fervor of that car, who they were:

in aggregate, the thoughts I haven’t formed, books skimmed
             and come alive, unified recklessly
behind headlights to make me pull off under the half-lit
             letters of this truck stop, Esso $3.89.
In the time it takes to remember the phrase “burn and dodge”—
             in fact, to misremember it—they’re gone.

I wake up hungry, of course, grasping for the words I’d heard
             in my head as the reel of the almost-
crash replayed. But in the dissolve of daylight I find only
             one image: a license plate, which someone had tied
to the bathroom key and, if memory serves, cleverly elided.

Jill Leininger is the author of two poetry chapbooks and her poems have been recently published or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Nimrod International, and OCHO. She is currently at work on a manuscript about this country’s first courtroom scandal, in 1913.

Originally appeared in NOR 20.

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