views from the passenger seat
I have never felt more safe
than the time you drove me home,
and then you drove me home,
and then you drove me home—
always you are driving me home
in an infinite loop
(in one version we stop to investigate
the metal chest left on the side of the highway,
but a new version of the story begins before
we get to see what’s inside—
In another version you pull over
and leave me there on the side of the highway—
another version of you picks me up;
all is forgiven, and this is how the story restarts;
another version of you becomes the ghost
you have sometimes made yourself to be)
as I frantically rewrite our shared history,
as I grab your cigarettes from the glove box,
and try to ignore the gun.
In every version of this story
I am trying to ignore the gun,
which is to say You are tracing the outline of a State we both lived in on my heart, which is to say I am drunk enough to ask you to hold me and I mean really hold me please none of that “Christian side hug” bullshit, which is to say I am drunk enough that you are driving me home.
There is still not a version of this story
in which I don’t want you
driving me home.
I know you are not one for Jesus
so I pose the question instead:
what would John Darnielle do
if he knew you were a rapist?
If you shook hands with your hero
said, “I love the Mountain Goats,
and also I keep going when women
tell me no,”
said, “I love your work,
especially the way associating with it
makes women think I am safe.”
How the hell do you separate the work
from the behavior of fans?
And how the hell do I keep listening
to the Mountain Goats
when you’re the one who got me into them?
Grace Mitchell is a poet residing in Denver, CO, although she has called many places home. She has edited for both Negative Capability Press and the Oracle Fine Arts Review. When not writing, she can be found riding her bike, working the clerk desk at the local library, and hanging out with nuns.
Top Photo: Etienne Pauthenet