The key won’t turn.
We are stranded
in a dark tunnel.
We sit stunned by the lack of movement.
I go and reach in the trunk,
feeling for a flashlight
or flares, but find
a soft blanket.
Even without light,
I know it’s the brown and orange afghan,
once draped over your college couch,
with gaping holes made by fingers and toes –
stretched and thinned by time.
We were young,
your apartment was empty,
I held a lamp and you this blanket
walking down the steps into the future
or as far as your rusted Daytona would take us.
You threw the blanket in the trunk
and it smelled like lilacs, like her hair.
The old, worn blanket,
from car to car,
with jumper cables
the empty oil containers.
The red Sentra,
The gray Escort,
The blue Saturn,
The tan mini-van,
but the afghan stayed, smelling
of everything we had been through.
You take the blanket,
red faced and silent
because I didn’t check
the Farmers’ Almanac dates
designated car problems,
or because I ignored the battery light all week,
or I don’t have useful friends who work for a
tow company or could switch on the tunnel lights.
The night is chilly and we are
alone in the dark
without a working car and
forty minutes from being saved.
You wrap the blanket around the pain,
pull up your knees
turn your head to the window
close your eyes to the darkness.
I watch you,
smell the lilacs,
remember the night
I almost walked out into a different future –
the blanket wrapped you on the sagging couch
falling asleep, grimacing with cramps
and an accounting exam in the morning.
I open the door to get out
and the blanket wrestles
to fight off the chill.
I close it gently
thinking batteries die
in black tunnels with only
a black and orange afghan in the trunk.
You can follow James Dugan on facebook and on Twitter @jamesduganlb. Purchase his new book through Amazon What Baseball Teaches: A Poetic Odyssey into 2008 Season of the World Champions Philadelphia Phillies