Urban folk: the truth is out there

a poem by Paula Puolakka

He has no teeth,
but still, he walks like a king across the gas station parking lot.
In his white pick-up truck, he listens to Led Zeppelin, the foreign sounds of his youth, and
feels like the ruler of I-81 though he’s just a grain of sand in this overpopulated world.

His skin is tan and his mustache is thick: a bumper between him and the ladies,
who are only California Dreaming or in the New York State of Mind and
not falling head over heels for the West Virginian.
But when he gets to his hometown, sees the weeds and the wildflowers surrounding the old
warehouse,
he feels peace taking over his heart.
Here, all is well. He’s somebody, even when he’s a nobody.

It is then, B-side of the mix-tape and “In the Evening,”
when he sees a vision from his youth: a baby girl pouring her thoughts out while sitting on
the hood
of her gray Caddy.
But this time, it’s not a dream.
No, it’s not a scene from a movie.
No, it’s not a poem in Jeff’s secret notebook.
There she is, flesh and bone, next to the field, looking fine: better than Stevie Nicks when
she was young.

What is the woman writing?
Oh, only the usual.
“What can a poor girl do than sit under God’s watchful eye and peer into the distance:
to look over the rooftops of the white houses, the factory smokestacks,
and the church steeples and feel the energy of the bright blue sky and the forest green?”
Pauline’s bellbottoms are out of fashion,
her white Converses are retro.
She’s not a feminist.
She wants to be a “good girl” to a “good boy,”
just like God said it should be and would be,
but she has always been always misunderstood,
just a “tomboy” or a “lesbian” to the crocodiles and hippos of the big city.
“What can a poor girl do than sit under God’s watchful eye and peer into the distance?”

That’s when she hears his voice.
“Hello, missy. Are you having car trouble? It’s not safe to be out here all by yourself.
Maybe I can help you.”
And as Pauline sees the green of his eyes and as Jeff sees the blue in hers they know:
it was all about God’s timing.

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