To Carter

Elizabeth Mayer

Lady, I thought of you today, and how you always liked a good fountain soda. 
On thousand-mile road trips we’d drive through drive-thrus in your mother’s silver
the one with the black, leather heated seats—and you’d get a coke, and I’d get a
Hey, remember that time

On the way to Chillicothe, when we missed our exit and nearly ended up in
It smelled like snow that night in June, as you craned your neck toward the orange-
    vested toll collector. 
She laughed at us as we turned around and drove south through the whole state of
I felt like I was hallucinating the reflectors on the double yellows on the way to that
    weird motel where we finally stopped. 

In the morning Illinois was gold and flat and full of corn; I thought it looked so
boring and missed Virginia with its peaks and valleys and beaches,  and I felt so
landlocked and somehow nervous to be so far from the sea—the same reason you
    once said you could never live in New Mexico. 
Then I said who needed the sea with all that sky, but now I know different because

though you did not stay, I can’t help but remain—
here, in my home—Virginia.

Elizabeth Mayer lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. She is currently a student at the University of Virginia and mother of a lovely, rambunctious two year old—Ruby.