The Last House in Minneapolis

By James Cihlar

Go past the last house in Minneapolis, darling,
and that's where you'll find us. Driving up here

today, I saw through my rearview mirror,
the ghost of my old boss,

the one who found my apartment for me,
in the driver's seat of the car behind.

She and I used to talk all day when I first started work.
Later we used to fight all day and then leave the office,

tailgating each other home to the same neighborhood.
God rest her soul. The last house in Minneapolis is a split-level ranch,

with blonde brick half-facade, completed by vertical clapboard,
painted pink. You'll recognize it by the sign,

This is the last house in Minneapolis.
I didn't know I could be happy until I left my home,

my family, my Nebraska. The split-level's roof is flat,
but tilts toward the front, showing the home's high forehead.

The last house before the last house in Minneapolis
is a traditional Cape Cod, in white shingles.

The narrow black shutters, clearly impractical
for such clean windows, elegantly slough off

their paint in the smallest of curls. The first house after
the last house in Minneapolis is an apartment,

across from the touchless car wash that in summer
scents the neighborhood with pink detergent.

The bedroom window is covered by blinds now instead of curtains.
We had a lot of sex up there. Once, after a shower,

you dried yourself by standing in the bedroom
near the closet, jumping up and down.

I reached for my glasses on the nightstand.
I didn't know I could be who I am

until I left my hometown.
The house after the last house in Minneapolis

reminds me of the last bike path in Omaha.
Morgan and I walked it one midnight in junior high,

drinking a gallon jug of apple wine. We walked past
the flush irises, ebullient in their bloom,

fleshy, transparent white transubstantiating into
grape at the ruffled petal's end. The fenced-in

swimming pool glowed fifties aqua as he lied
about climbing the fence once, taking off all his clothes,

to swim there naked. By the end of the last bike path
in Omaha, I was so drunk Morgan had to take me home

to sleep in his room. When I woke up, I saw him
nude, standing by my bed. Back then, adolescent,

still drunk, I thought I would live forever.
But now I know better.

After the last house in Minneapolis,
the street runs into the park, green, dark, rich with sunlight glints

burnishing the occasional silhouette near the lake.
And we get tired, old. No matter what hangs in the bedroom window

of the house after the last house in Minneapolis,
you and I will always be inside, me watching you dance.