August 2010

Reed Wilson


Reed Wilson directs the Undergraduate Research Center for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at UCLA where he teaches in the English Department. His poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Natural Bridge, and elsewhere, and his reviews appear regularly in Poetry International.

When I Was Twenty-One    

I had this job
with the University Parking Service.
Early Saturday mornings, still
drunk from the night before, I'd drive
from one parking garage to another, maintaining
the automatic parking devices
for middle-aged continuing
education students.

And each week,
without fail,
in one of those garages I would find
a man and a woman dressed
in skimpy running clothes, sometimes
in one corner, sometimes
in another, but always wrapped
in one long and apparently continuous kiss,
their mouths, even their bodies fused  
like sea creatures reproducing,
unaware of the predators circling nearby.  

Of course I imagined my own facts
behind that rendezvous: each
of my characters had suffered a long night
of torment, only to rise
with the first light, dress quickly,
whisper to the groggy spouse in bed:
don't worry—won't be gone long—
just off for a run! And now,
here they were with
me and my noisy truck, tobacco
and grease-stained fingers striking a match.

I'd graduated. I knew
that the parking spaces we find
are never as close to where we're going
as we want them to be. And yet
I wanted to believe
that couple had found some more
highly evolved form, locked up
in a kind of oblivion I
had not yet known, better
than those others, washed up
each day into a dawn that tugged
at their heavy clothes, and awakened
the ancient memory of being
heaved unschooled onto a rocky beach,
and told, though never in so many words,
grow legs, or die.



Reed Wilson: Poetry
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