there’s no past, there’s only future, the words you were humming weren’t yours, they never were, your voice a song being born in my ears carrying me away to joy everlasting in our days of van, march winds in february bringing on summer, the red sports car up and down the coast blasting brown-eyed girl for you and you alone, seagulls circling us because my heart was pumping too much blood, left foot on the side view mirror riding high in the open air, that car in the hills moving so fast, your head in my lap moving so slow, you weren’t sleeping, you were tasting my tupelo honey when the cops caught us to turn us loose, your beautiful face my alibi, the tall one said there’s no law against driving blind if it’s under love’s influence, the short one advised you to wipe your mouth and me to keep my hands on the wheel and my foot out of the sky which i really did think my ecstasy would puncture and bring the heavens down on us like rain in your kissing mouth. at the record store in monterey you’d scored that rare them, on the cover van had a black eye and you did too, it wasn’t from me, you mentioned justin or maybe vernon, you laughed more strangely than usual, you kept streaming them through spotify which you know isn’t our needle in the groove rushing on its run in some borrowed room under some paling sun, saying it’s you, baby, only you, but it was like a cold wind in august when that clerk’s note fell out telling you to come back for the records i hadn’t seen, you make friends so fast, i never could, you said he ain’t give you none and despite your laugh so eerie i kept hearing your song in my ears ferrying me to shores unseen. i can’t yet remember what was playing, maybe mystic eyes which i heard when yours captured mine and i saw your unblinking ancestors in them blushing for me or you just can’t win because you always said you preferred jack’s version just to screw with me, it could’ve been saint dominic’s preview, you kept that close for when you wanted me to sing with you and distract me from something you did, and i did sing because i couldn’t bear to tell you or myself soul doesn’t need a witness to see. i never asked where we were going, beach baby was always your word, i suffered when you switched bon iver for van and it’s not your clutched kicking heels i’m seeing, or the sand your ankles rubbed against my neck in the sky’s dying light your legs wrapped around me like a formation of seagulls i’m feeling, but the clicking of the key i’m hearing those late beachfront nights you slipped out for the records in monterey or carmel-by-the-sea returning after daybreak to surprise me with your tongue in my ear, moaning justin’s name, saying, vernon, baby, call me emma, i’m the song you’ll learn to sing, though emma’s not your name and that was forever ago. now you’re dead or i hope you are despite seeing you in other womens’ eyes, and some men too, when we’ve given into destruction like waves on the beach forever crashing on lovers dug into sand like sea shells lost to their bodies and nothing remains for the seagulls to swallow from those lost days of van when i was caught inside your ancestors’ eyes and we daily gazed out on eternity’s passing. now there’s no future, just oblivion, i’m inside you, forever like you promised, i can’t pull out, you’ve jumped to other wavelengths and left beach baby playing in my ears like a broken record broken record broken record i can’t keep from spinning.
Timothy Parrish is a writer and critic living somewhere in California, teaching when UC Davis calls. Parrish’s recent fiction has appeared in Raritan, Ploughshares, Vestal Review, Equinox, and Blood and Bourbon.