On the Road with Emily

It’s not that her vision was too small
but her experience too limited, too sad
She wanted for fresh horizons
so I decided to take Miss Emily

on a road trip. She sits shotgun--
insists upon it—while I drive.
We let Google Maps navigate
so we can focus on weightier matters

like the transcendence of the soul,
the ephemerality of experience, and
whether pan pizza is superior to thin crust.
We see the sights. I realize

that I’m thirsty, but she only tastes
a liquor never brewed. We keep the Sabbath
staying in the car, and we both freak
when we hear a fly buzz. I’m not

stopping, I inform her, not for Death,
not for immortality, and not for
clean restrooms, 17 mi. ahead.
We finally make it

to the beach, though she tells me
she was hoping for Disneyland.
She dips her toes into the Pacific—
and the eyes of the Wren

are electrified. She sheds the white
and dons capris. She joins
the women’s volleyball team, and wins.
She sunbathes topless.

As we leave the beach long past dusk
she takes my hand and tells me,
Now she knows what it means to be a Belle
but why would she ever write poetry?

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William Bernhardt

William Bernhardt is the author of over forty books, including *Challengers of the Dust*, the bestselling *Ben Kincaid* series of courtroom novels, the *Red Sneaker* Books on fiction writing, the *Shine* young adult series, and two books of poetry, most recently *The Ocean's Edge*. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife novelist Lara Bernhardt and their children.

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