By: Raymond King Shurtz
I was driving down the freeway to Tucson—
early in the evening.
I saw someone in another car
that made me think of you.
It was the same time,
the same day,
driving this same road,
maybe even the same time of year,
as I tried to recall.
You had just said something
about a movie we had seen
a couple of weeks before,
I had just finished reading the paper.
We were trying to remember
the name of one of the characters,
he played a supporting role.
You thought he had just died
in a car wreck or something.
“James somebody," you said.
“No, I don’t think it was James,
I think it was Michael somebody.”
Then you said, “No, it was James, I’m positive...”
We both stopped—
looked out at the road in front of us.
There were no cars anywhere.
The only sound was the wind whistling through a cracked window.
We were thinking.
We were thinking about movies.
We were thinking about actors,
We were thinking about car wrecks and motion.
I thought of James Dean,
the tangled metal of a Spider Porsche,
the image of Jayne Mansfield—her instantaneous final end.
I looked at you in your thoughts.
Your green eyes
tangled blond hair—Dutch perfect beauty.
So smart, so real,
so searing with sexuality--future stories,
your skin to touch like velvet.
As you reached to turn the radio
on to close this question,
I turned back to the skyline.
Everything became clear.
Not the name of the actor,
or the movie,
or the lines in the road as we
moved across the desert.
Not the past,
or the goodness
we had shared.
It was the inevitable end.
The rhythm of our conversation,
the bite in the air,
the meandering cosmic turns of our banter--
led to one inevitable conclusion.
I wasn’t loving you
any less at that moment,
or feeling critical about the way
you chose to get at this mystery--
I wasn’t feeling the fear of
or rev-elating the subtle annoyance
of two human beings
who have worn out each other’s welcome.
I wasn’t contemplating a new love,
or another move to New York City.
It was just the way of the culmination--
the land, the movement, the memories,
The way your hand reached for the radio.
In this vast expanse of the highway—
we were somehow leaving each other,
don’t have to have a reason;
sometimes, it’s just the way
stars get in the way of things.
(Raymond is in his eighth year of directing the theatre and film program at Metro Arts Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Raymond has been working in the theatre and film business for 20 years. His plays are published by Samuel French and Anchorage Press. Raymond designs, acts, directs, teaches and writes, and was most currently awarded the Arizona Commission on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship in 2003. The artistic director of cheap theatrix, a producing company, Raymond has written 30 plays and has produced more than 80 new plays in his career. His play, "Charlie Foster," about swimming and theatre, is scheduled for publication before summer by Anchorage Press. Raymond is also a singer/songwriter, and has written more than 200 songs. He is also the producing director of The Boulder Heritage Festival, a three day music and historic festival in Southern Utah.)
Labels: Poem, Raymond King Shurtz