There are parts of Wichita where you just don’t go
when it’s raining, at least in April when rain gets
down and serious in the way meteorologists pray for
in that disinterested TV way that loves wild weather
but hates the consequences when it gets too close.
Just west of downtown if you take the wrong turn
onto one of the streets that are still brick with a pebbled
coat of asphalt, where the houses debate
whether they are shotgun or bungalow,
in that place where indistinct people stand in the street
smoking cigarettes and looking kind of dicey, that place
where if you take a wrong turn, the smooth puddle
in the intersection turns into you, with water
clear up to the floorboard and a flooded out engine.
That place. Get out and push the car with all your friends
because what else is there to do? And it works
this time and you’re laughing your way past the strip clubs
and car lots on South Broadway, bound for another night
at the Cowboy. It’s time to dance and the bright lights
don’t look dusty when they’re on and the cheap floor
is painted black to hide a multitude of spilled beers.
On your way home, the stoplights blink red and the only
other cars are serving and protecting. Even in the dark,
the sky still has that yellow tinge that says storm,
but when you’re nineteen, the storm is never for you.
Photo by Shannon Kringen