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6 a.m. and I get up as quietly as I can and fix some coffee for the trip. 7 hours, depending on traffic and I need to be at work at 6 tonight. I check the bedroom one more time before I step out and she is curled up and still. All blankets and pillows and swirls of brown hair. More inviting than the smell of the coffee. I wince, and walk out.

The highway ahead of me curves up and around the river as I head north away from Richmond. I try and concentrate on the traffic and not on last night-her eyes sparkling under the streetlights, that green dress and the sandals she tossed in the fountain - just cos

A fog bank ahead stops the asphalt cold, as if the world ended there. It doesn't- low beams and 2 miles pulls me out of it. I pass through a series of exit ramps, truckstops and rest areas, but I keep heading North. She tells me I should just take the train, but I tell her I only like the train when she can ride with me and she blushes, remembering~

December 31st, 1989, 3 a.m., somewhere near Springfield, an unused sleeping car and a form of gymnastics I doubt I could do again. Trying to time our movements with the train. Muffled squeals. Periodic cold gusts of air when a conductor slides through. And a luke warm Molson to celebrate afterwards.

I'm blinking off again, and I swerve to miss a bus that passes me on the right. I turn on the radio and put on some news show. I don't want any music that will remind me of her, remind me that it will be three weeks before I can see her again.

1 a.m. and I get home from work, finally. A brief message on the machine-her voice- honey slow.

Hey, mister don't work so hard-save your energy for other things (pause) talk to you soon. Love you. (pause) thanks for letting me sleep. (pause) 'night. (dialtone)

I stare at the ceiling and decide if I can bear to hear it twice and I choose NO. I turn off the lights and walk out of the bathroom but the halfmoon puts a blue spotlight on the bed and where she is not. Nothing could be colder than the space she won't fill this night. I put my clothes back on and go for a walk.

meet me in the middle of the day
let me hear you say "everythings OK"
send me southern kisses from your room
meet me in the middle of the night
I'll hear you say "everythings all right"
let me smell the moon in your perfume
Romeo's tune-Steve Forbert

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