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Black Hair, As Black As My Soul
by Francine DuBois

As a child, his parents took him to Utah to look at the desert.
Coming from Minneapolis, he was shocked and scared
At feeling alone and vulnerable for the first time.
He had nightmares for two weeks afterwards

About running out of gas on I-70
During that 150 mile stretch without services.
He had to go to the bathroom during that time
And they pulled off a rest stop.

Eleven Native Americans were leaning against the restrooms,
The only source of shade for miles.
A twelve-year-old girl looked at him
Through her black hair, blowing across her face

And he has thought about her ever since.
Irrationally, he is going back now,
To travel those same sad miles
And see if she's still sitting there.

He can't imagine her moving.
Yet the fear of loneliness and rejection
Is built into the grooves of the test pavement
And he is hypnotized by the nothingness of the desert.

He begins to wonder if she was just a mirage,
If that rest stop even existed
Or if he was baited into death
By a beauty, like all those awful poems

He had to read in high school. He feels destined
To end up like the boarded-up gas station,
A wreck of a man, forgotten and abandoned,
Skeleton bleaching in the unyielding sunlight.

Francine's Version -- Hezekiah's Version -- Inspiration
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