They Call This

They Call This

They Call This 1920 1920 Lorrie Ness

After your call.
After an all-night drive down I-95.

Its spine
of red lights, white lights
slashing the darkness,

I blinked.
Like lava, the lights erupted
on my eyelids.

They call this an afterimage. A sign
that our rods and cones are at their limit.

To my knowledge, there is no name
for the starburst of radial lines—dash lights
refracting through tears.

After the cascade of crumpled of tissues,
the passenger seat glowed white,
like night blooming jasmine.

They call this a nosegay. A small collection
of flowers.

After I took the exit,
I entered a truck stop. The sodium street lights
cast peach puddles on pavement.

I stood on their banks and collected a paper boat,
which was a straw wrapper.

They call this litter and the ponds a mirage.
I called the shadows

After fourteen hours,
of broken A/C, crackling FM,
and one more coffee
from Flying J,

I crossed the Florida line
and parked at Leesburg Regional Medical Center.
Which is called LRMC.

I was squatting by the curb
swatting a halo of midges.

Retching on asphalt.
Sweating and heaving,
snotting like a bull, raging and whipping its head.

My humidity had begun to condense.

They call this the dew point.
A sign I’d reached my limit.

Header photograph © Katherine Adams.

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