Radio II, by Alexander Eikenberg
From the passenger’s seat you reach over and turn on the radio.
With the windows down at sixty-five the sound is stifled out of hearing
but when I glance over I watch you tune the dial and chew your bottom lip
then sit back in the noise. I think I hear you say I love this song.
I say I can’t hear a thing, but your eyes are closed
and you’re in a private, pensive place.
I see the wind play with your hair and I wish that I could find that place,
this somewhere you’ve found with just you and the radio
where the buffeting breeze is a partition, closed
around the space filled with music you know like family, a song
whose rhythm I can feel in my chest but can’t say I’m really hearing.
You mouth the words with your chapped lips.
Afternoon light clips my cheekbone and lips
and I feel the creeping heat on my skin in the places
where I feel the heat when we dance to a song,
something we both knew on the radio.
Once, snickering and stumbling over the music without hearing
the words we danced until the bar lights flared that it was time they closed.
The sun sets behind the highway and we roll the windows closed.
The low angled light makes me squint, and I rub a finger on my lip
but this ringing in my ears floods my hearing
with the echo of the Route 30 gale suffocating our place
and smothering the quiet sounds of my dry lips and the radio
And the gray advertisements that replaced your song.
After a time I can hear again the wheels drone a low song
for the travelers above them, one you can’t hear unless the windows are closed.
What are you thinking about, I ask, and you turn off the radio.
It’s been years. I’ve never brought you to this place.
When I was fifteen I sat on the tall tree branches like a stage’s lip
and dangled my feet, taking in all there was worth hearing.
We’re twenty miles from your parents’ home and I hear
the trills and whistling loops of wren birdsong
that I can tell have always drawn you back to this place.
They sing you a Welcome we hear even with the windows closed.
Your old neighbors draw a smile from your lips
and I think the material of this moment is like radio.
It drifts between places and just out of hearing
and like the radio in our car, I need to dial in to find its song
before it’s closed. The antenna I think I need is a finger pressed to my lips.
Alexander Eikenberg is a poet from Hampstead, Maryland, and a graduate student at Towson University. He is inspired by the people that fill his heart, and dreams of going to work in a college classroom. His poetry has been published in Runestone, Grub Street, Next Page Ink, and others.
Sarah Belli is an emerging artist and writer who currently lives in Sarasota, FL. She is a student at the University of South Florida and is majoring in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. With emotion at the forefront of her work, Sarah uses her own experiences to express how she sees the world. This is her debut art publication.