Meditations on Driving

You were driving,
and I was sitting next to you
in the passenger seat
of your late-80s Tercel.

I sat,
my forehead on the cold glass of the window.

I saw the white lines on the road,
bright from your headlights,
and I thought of long, thick lines of cocaine.

Because that
is a simile I would put in a poem
when I was in high school,
a line that I would feel proud of,

I smiled.

–     –     –

He was driving
his company truck
across Oregon
for the fourth straight hour.

The seats were covered
with old day-planner pages and safety forms,
empty sunflower seed bags and
leftover fast-food napkins.

Wind screamed through the open window
over his music—
the bass up,
doorframes buzzing—
while his hand sailed in the sun.

He steered with his knee,
his hands off the wheel
to open a water bottle and drink.

He told me bad jokes
about drinking and driving,
described obscure landmarks
like family members at a reunion.

He memorized mileposts and exit signs,
infused them in his veins.

–      –     –

She was driving
me back from a doctor appointment.

The radio was off;
the car filled with the engine’s drone,
rain drumming on the roof,
the wipers keeping time.

I looked at the streetlights
reflected in the puddles
on the side of the road—
and if you do,
you see the actual shape of the filament
instead of the light it projects.

She asked me
what I was thinking,
what I was feeling.

I didn’t know what to say,
so I didn’t
say anything.

–     –     –

I was driving
from the school where I work
two hours after my contractual day ended.

I was on the highway
headed east
on 18 toward Snoqualmie.

I looked at the lines on the road,
the dashes,
the clouds above.

The exit sign glimmered in the October twilight—
wet pine needles stuck on its face.

I saw the off-ramp,
about missing it,
not coming back,
starting anew
anywhere else.

My foot hovered over the gas pedal—
I took the exit.

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