Scoundrel Time

This Is Us (Oxycodone Song)


What was it Mavis said about the marble, re: Da Vinci,
or was it Michelangelo, you know, that the job is, some-
how, the careful removal of what isn’t needed—of what’s
getting in the way? Something like that? Google it, I said.
She’d been the get-away driver but I had the wheel now,
hands at 10 and 2, the cruise control locked into the posted
speed limit, brake lights, turn signal lamps all in working
order. Funny what you focus on here, at the end of the line.
But isn’t it always the last detail left unchecked, the thing
you assumed she or he would do (but didn’t) that gets you?
And you damn sure can’t catch it all, and you can’t fathom
it all, so, to the question where were we headed, if truth were
told, the answer was, of course, to the penitentiary, which
made a puff of air half-whistle through her mouth (again),
and if there were gods, in the slant light of Oklahoma,
then they could come to us, as they seemed to do in chrome,
in a sheen, in the glister over a slag pond, in the blameless
Osage hills, in shattered windows of towns ravaged by shit
no one reading this can rightly say they’ve known. And,
if you doubt me, when next you see us, we’ll be flying
signs, we’ll have ditched the car but not the money, which
will have vanished soon enough, and your job will be to un-
click your doorlock, roll down your fancy window for a
better look: yes, the sweet, short life we’re given ends
the way a song does, and it takes about as long to end,
& there’s an art, I guess you’d say, to that: to the cut
and the trim of the sail, and then you’re washed up on some
traffic island in front of a city museum. In truth, the art
on the walls impressed us. We stared for a while then
she touched the scrim of the screen with a question, as if
from another life—it was Michelangelo, she finally said.