The Dog Lover

When others asked the truth of me, I was convinced it was not the truth they wanted,
but an illusion they could bear to live with.
- Anaïs Nin

Driving the Desert Highway
the girl with blond hair and blue eyes
started crying, “Why can’t I be enough?”

As if she had rehearsed this line
a thousand times, her voice
on the verge of throwing
itself off a bridge but for all its intent
remained steadfast to the wheel

through the slow traffic that afforded her
this blown-up drama while the dog lover
blew smoke rings out the window

resigned to a very long trip. She who was lost
in counting the windmills along the highway
each whoosh of the pillarblades turning
and gathering in an outside force

deep into the generator, into the cathexis
of its electric center, live sparks crackling.

“I just can’t love you that way,” she said quietly.
So quietly she could have been speaking
to the dust settling in the radiator, or to the
saguaros standing like sentinels, when

what she really meant to say, “I made a mistake,”
recalling the speaker at the seminar with whom
there’d been a few looks and fewer words, but whose lips
had left her unsettled. She couldn’t help but stare.

“I wanted to be you,” the girlfriend confided at last. Echoing on the
word, want, maybe she left out, “with you,” but suddenly
it occurred to the dog lover what was whorishly wrong—

The anatomy of her mouth    Where words
kept pushing and pushing and falling out.

Mia was born in Korea and grew up in Ohio and Texas. She moved to California after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. She now resides in Minneapolis, where she edits the online magazine, Tryst, which is currently on hiatus.