Evan Neiden

we turned at the sign by the edge of the highway

down a road to a field that stretched out
forever underneath a warm grey sky

i don’t remember where we were coming from,++++++but
++++i remember
++++++++the drive.
++++++++we were listening to skeeter davis sing
++++++++sweet and sour standards on the radio.
++++++++i sang along;
++++++++you swayed back and forth.
++++++++++++our trunk was piled high with
++++++++++++baskets and
++++++++++++other tools.
++++++++++++we didn’t have anything tying it all together.
++++++++++++++++but somehow,
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++we made do.

we turned at the sign by the edge of the highway

and when we disembarked
at the place where the field began,
++++we left skeeter davis singing in the car
++++++++and i took your hand
++++++++++++for a moment.

++++++++++++we didn’t look at each other.
++++++++there was still so much to do.

i remember
++++the sun starting to set
++++as we lay the picnic
everything had to be just so:
++++the food,
++++the blanket,
++++the dishes,
++++the rest of the tools.

we didn’t look at each other.++but
++++i know you looked at me
++++++++when my back was turned.
++++i know because
++++++++++++++++i did the same.

eventually,
++++++++++we made do.

++++++++++++and down we sat to eat.
++++++++it was silent.
++++and i couldn’t taste a thing.
it was the best meal i’d ever had.

we turned at the sign by the edge of the highway

and while we ate,
++++i made a list++++++++++in my head
++++of everything we’d packed in the trunk:

our baskets of food,
++++++++of course,
our checkerboard blanket,
++++++++almost as big as it needed to be.
six plates –
++++two for salad,
++++two for mains,
++++two for dessert.
++++++++did we ever get to dessert?
two sets of utensils
two shovels
++++++++for digging
two teacups
and our car,
++++++++still playing skeeter davis.

we turned at the sign by the edge of the highway

and with the food cleared away,
++++we put our shovels to use
++++++++under where our checkerboard blanket had been;
++++++++++++digging down into the earth,
++++++++++++digging++++as flies picked at our leftovers,
++++++++++++digging++++++++as the sun set the rest of the way,
and we kept+`++digging++++++++++++until the stars came out. and then

we just stood in+ithe spaces+iwe’d made,+ilooking up.

++++we didn’t say good night.
i never saw your eyes again. but

++++as we lay down
in our two sunken beds, stretched out
underneath a cold, starry sky
++++i looked at the
++++constellations
++++way
++++++++up
++++++++++++high
++++++++++++++++and++++++++++++++++++++i made do.

even as you covered up our view
++++with that checkerboard blanket.

even as skeeter davis sang us to sleep,
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++i made do.

we turned at the sign by the edge of the highway;
we didn’t need to read what it said.


Evan Neiden is an NYC-based writer and performance artist. They make poems out of Jewish folk tales, big band music, childhood synesthesia, black licorice, and wrong numbers.