Five-to-six men surround us at all times. Even as we drive, there are two-to-three men behind us, two-to-three men in front. The mountains range, like clouds, on the road’s sides. They let go, one by one. Turn around and they let go again. At the beginning, we only know what the other is thinking. We hop time zones, back and forth, Pacific to Mountain, and one, then the other, is colder, darker. We want to drive into the trees and leave the men behind. We’re beginning to know what the five-to-six men are thinking. She and I argue more often. More rhymes, less reason. They show me how to build a fire. I arrange the branches. One of the five-to-six men stops me and redoes it. I carefully place a lit match on top. It looks like I did it, like it’s mine. They sing to each other on walkie-talkies. Sometimes close, sometimes far. Never out of range.
“Have a conversation.” “Share a moment.” “Talk about that Target t-shirt again.” “Talk about Catherine’s boyfriend.” “Yes, good, great.” “Keep talking like that.” I look up and say wowwwww. “Don’t point.” “Look natural.” The fire burns until the branches resemble a rib cage. What a thing to say while we’re eating. She wouldn’t have said it if the five-to-six men weren’t there. The slices of avocado add a pop of color to the gray morning. They don’t need light the way the leaves do. Five-to-six men touch my knees. I’m a compass being directed towards the setting sun. I’m pretending to write a poem. The ground is burnt. There are many fallen angles. “We’re losing her fast.” I’m journaling away.
Three more hotsprings to relax in. Some things are cheaper here, some are the same. I forgot how much I like fire. I make loops like I’m writing. They’re looking for visual poetry. The sky is leaning on its elbows. I rolled the hops in my hands until it all fell apart. I’m sitting on a stump five-to-six men picked out. They’re on their knees, waving wheat in front of the lens. “You could have it for real, but then the sun
would be down.”