The Edge

Six of us in Louie’s Ford head north on Alvarado,
past the hospital, past the midnight dreariness
of storefronts, steel gutters ticking with the start of rain.
Streets slick, we turn and skid at corners;
our faces shine and fade as we pass streetlights,
signals, race up a hill to reach the top, where
Louie lets the engine idle. “Come on,” we yell, “let’s go.”

This is what we came for: the drop into the dark,
the long, steep slide before we lift in air
as if we’re weightless; flying. Then, the jolt
of earth on axle, the spin into the chain-linked yard
of Mrs. Apadaca who, awakened, hammers Louie
with her shoe, promises him early death, forgetting
how desire can take you to the edge, eager
for what lies ahead; laughing, racing toward it.

Mary Armstrong