Cut Along The Dotted Lines

by Emma Rebholz

The windows are rolled down,
but kept up just high enough so the wind 
doesn’t send my bangs flying.
This requires precision, but you’ve mastered it by now.
All those other midnight drives were practice runs 
for this- the one we will call the last, 
at least for a little while.

Our origin story is two halves of a sandwich: 
1. I sat at the lunch table in front of yours all through middle school.
While I peeled the crusts off my peanut butter sandwiches, 
I would listen in on your conversations, never say a word.

2. By senior year I am sick of peanut butter, but now we sit together.
Sometimes you make me laugh so hard that no sound comes out at all,
but this is the furthest I have ever been from silence.

While we drive past your old house, 
you point to the spot where your burning bush used to be.
You planted it with your parents, grew up with it.
We only realized we’d lived in the same neighborhood
after you had already moved away.
The bush went with you.

Now I imagine peeling away the new rows of hedges 
like the crusts on those sandwiches. 
Maybe underneath I would find ashes, 
as if it that bush had actually burned,

but nothing ever burns in this town 
except cigarettes, campfires,
or rubber on back roads
with the high beams on.

Our origin story is two halves of a highway: 
1. The way out.

2. The way back.

I know if you cut along the dotted lines, 
you could split us straight down the middle.
I try not to imagine pulling the halves apart.

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