After Vegemite, Love
Amy Leigh Wicks (Victoria University of Wellington)
It was the third day of a month long road trip. A friend
was moving from the happiest town in America
to old New York City. I was tired as an overworked sheepdog
from glandular fever, which sounds old fashioned and very English.
The doctor said ‘it’s the kissing disease you know,’ and I
ignored his raised eyebrow and slept from San Luis Obispo to Eugene.
We pulled up the gravel drive to a big white house
surrounded by tall grass and grey horses. A lady came toward
our car, no makeup, hair swept back. I liked her. She said ‘you look,
well you look awful,’ and I felt relieved. She took me into the kitchen
and spread black paste thin onto buttered toast before melting cheddar
on top under the broiler. ‘try this,’ she said, and I did.
It was hot pretzel and beer good – the best thing I’d tasted since
I quit drinking, which was smart because it doesn’t help with
the kissing disease. She put me in a room with a blue duvet
fat as a cloud, and woke me for dinner a decade later.
I loathed that car, didn’t want to leave the Arabians,
the creaky wooden stairs, that lady’s hands or her Dutch oven
Moussaka. What was her name? She married an Aussie
in Scotland she said, and she said other things too as I drifted
in and out, in and out of sleep at the dinner table. What was her name?
I was not ready to leave Eugene for Portland, but I opened my eyes
for Coeur D’alene. I didn’t care about the whole state of Wyoming
until I saw a buffalo for the first time, and it saw me.
Until a pack of wild horses ran alongside the car
in Shoshoni, and the mountains turned lavender.
We met two men near the North Platte River. The second man
could have carried me across the country in his arms
and tucked me into bed without breaking a sweat.
I mean, I saw him, and I wanted him to see me. I did not want
to leave. I was tired again, no more hot pretzel and beer toast.
No more dark eyed man who didn’t like to answer questions, just
that damn car practically falling apart in Buffalo, New York,
My friend and I fighting and making up, laughing through tears
as a dog growled at our spinning tires and chased us
out of the driveway we pulled into, back onto the road.
Amy Leigh Wicks is an American poet from New York City. Some of her recent work can be found in Turbine, Ika 3 Journal, and NYSAI Literary Magazine. She lives with her husband in New Zealand and is a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington.