Portrait (For Turning 23)

Fresno struck me more like some form of mental condition than geography. Terry Allen

There’s a Nick Drake timbre in the wind tonight,
or maybe it’s the 41 charading
as Morro Bay again. What could I have said
to the honeybee that picked pollen off my
car in the middle of rush hour? I ask this
to a ten-lined June beetle
reprieving on my screen door, hissing
as my father did when his wrists cramped at the wheel
yesterday—Dad’s getting old.

And now he naps like Papa did
in primary flaccidity. He gets ten minutes
to roll his eyes back, reel rewind,
coax the memories of his kiddos. Primarily
the silly songbird impressions they made
just before bed; that’s when the nest was lived in.

I prep student pantry chicken breast and an egg,
thinking of her—I was falling in love, she was married
to the Tudor Revival homes and centennial portraits
of Fresno. Maybe if I had shown her a locust,
or a councilmember, or whatever’s left of Armenia Town,

then maybe…
maybe I’d be her man.

Although, I’ve never met anyone who kept their love
through the means of which they hate themselves,
and besides, this place has its moments—Honey,
look! There’s a June beetle at my door.

Gavin, G., Adult