Kidnapping Billy Collins
The snow fell like a soft ode
as we drove him North on U.S. 23
toward Alpena, Michigan, our destination.
He sat in the back window seat
next to Anne and Jan.
Julie drove and eyed him in the rear view.
His body seemed small and rumpled
in the Jeep, just the way we wanted him.
We gave him Vitamin Water, XXX,
and a travel pack of Xtra Cheddar Goldfish.
We wanted him alert, pacified.
We crossed the Au Sable, then hit Greenbush,
and he said, “I am so glad
it’s winter here—I can see steam rise
from the coffee cups.” We smiled.
Of course he did, but we didn’t listen.
All of this had a purpose, you see,
we had bills to pay, we had to get out of debt,
pay off the sitter, hide the grays,
buy new shades, rotate the flywheel,
fly off—Papua New Guinea— fly
on a bright white canvas full of humping
sea-turtles, that’s right, and an army
of Howler Monkeys on the beach,
and they are doing it too—everyone
going somewhere or doing it,
but what the hell, it was Tuesday,
and we were kidnapping Billy Collins.
We passed through Harrisville,
and Billy watched a bald man with no hat
scraping the ice off his truck.
He said, “Every face I see is a snowflake.”
We looked at each other and we knew
we had him, now we understood
this was going to work.
Maybe Billy knew, too.
He seemed relieved in the back seat,
looking out the window, his soft,
childlike face without a care in the world.
Softly, he said it, over and over,
the thing about the snowflakes,
and we moved forward all the time,
heading toward the city beside the lake
where we would tie him up and make him pay
for all of it,
for everything he was doing to us.