Sometimes what you need is a road
house, blast of laughter and warm air pouring
out the door, where the waitresses know
your name but the customers don’t, shrill
on the third martini or fifth Blue Ribbon,
steaks searing on a huge propane-fired grill.
Two birthday parties in full swing—
mylar balloons leashed to a chair-back slowly
turning—tonight you’re a few years shy
the median age, at your back-wall table drinking
iced tea because you don’t spend time with
the person you turn into after a frosted glass:
chardonnay, dark rum & tonic, you remember
her well, that girl, that woman, with great
compassion: her loneliness behind the amber
liquid disappeared, or seemed to, she got funny
and affectionate, softer, sexually daring but
not a femme fatale, always more honey
than darling, her courage long-gone by morning,
that terrible waking into a stranger’s sheets.
You don’t miss any of it. Headaches, longing
that’s miles easier to bear when sober,
wishing a friend would come along and love you,
even though you’re just getting older.
Some nights you need a road house, boisterous
laughter and warm air pouring through open
doors, the kind of place where your choice
is simple: well-done, bloody, or medium rare,
and no one gives a shit that you’re by yourself,
writing in a notebook. Nobody turns to stare.
Molly Fisk is the author of The More Difficult Beauty, Listening to Winter, and Terrain and a volume of radio essays, Blow-Drying a Chicken: Observations from a Working Poet. Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Marin Arts Council, and the California Arts Council, as well as a Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize in Poetry, a Dogwood Prize, a Billee Murray Denny Prize, a National Writer’s Union Prize, and a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She has taught at the UC Davis Extension and with the California Poets in the Schools program, and presently runs the online workshop Poetry Boot Camp. Fisk’s radio commentary is heard weekly on the News Hour of KVMR-FM, Nevada City, CA.