Saw River Phoenix Driving in Oregon
Right before I merged on the highway,
someone honked from behind.
I made my face appear more hostile,
male, drew my lips into a snarl.
And when that truck passed right
close as the grey blade of an ice skate
I decided, or didn’t decide, to look right—his puppy
mangy face, cig perched from his lips
like Tom Sawyer’s blade of wheat; he
waved at me. I didn’t consider why until after
the wheels had lumbered ahead—
when you’re really happy
you don’t want to dissect the source for why.
River Phoenix had waved at me
like he hadn’t died on a sidewalk.
I take the same route every day I’m out
in the hopes I’ll see that dirty yellow hair
again. I cut a line willing some of the blow
to get up his nose too. It happened just that once,
but we’re brothers now. What made me decide,
or didn’t decide, to catch his gaze that day
replaced the old habit of religion,
changed the way my soul
is nourished. Holy is whatever unpins us
from the dartboard, or whatever keeps us there,
and I thank the ruddy asphalt,
the late changing of a traffic light,
for guiding me to him:
the one time I’ve ever approached,
or finally left, the bullseye.