Take Your Time

we say, generously,

as if to imply

time can be taken, like a watch, a recipe,

two twenties from the cash register of the pizzeria

I stole one night in high school to buy a bag of pot,

“schwag,” we called it, and it tasted like sot.

We drove to a Steve Miller show

and smoked bowl after bowl.

“Take your time,” we say, though I can’t grasp

time like a wheel, or stop me from driving fast

and drunk on Washtenaw Avenue three years later.

I took the wheel in my hand, happy-bitter,

and nearly drove over a traffic island,

and was lucky.  I drove back without a sound

of fear or a mark.  I drank beer after beer.

I went to a party that year,

and lost my virginity to a girl I did not know.

Lying on top, time stopped; it felt so

wonderfully mundane.  Then it

ended; I had lasted a minute.

“Take your time,” she might have said.

She left her ID in my pocket,

visited me that afternoon

in pink shirt and tight jeans.

We spoke little.  I gave it back.

“Take me,” she never said,

though with her I was taken.

Those years are so sad,

just thinking about them

leaves me shaken.


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