car.talk

as soon as we reach
the place where you like to
drop me off,
you turn off the engine
and turn on the hazard lights
so we don’t get creamed by a bus
while we talk.

we twist and turn,
side by side but
in our own seats.
contained,
constrained,
conscientiously
abstaining.
I take off my seat belt or
put the top part behind my back
so it doesn’t rub me on the neck
like a tiny straitjacket.
we turn to face each other
as we talk, and then squirm
awkwardly away. I roll my head
against the headrest just like
I do on the pillow at home
when I can’t sleep, which
is always. I’m so desperately tired,
crazed with it, and yet
I can’t seem to bring myself to leave
and go back to my home, alone.

you always roll down your window
if the temperature outside
is above freezing.
I’m often cold, but I
don’t say anything.
I’d rather suffer slightly
than inconvenience you,
especially to make you
turn the car back on
just for the blessed heat
which would also
make you sweat uncomfortably.
I just hunch and snuggle
in my coat,
snap and unsnap it nervously,
or eventually take the excuse
to get out and smoke a cigarette.
if I’m going to be cold
anyway, I might as well
be smoking.

we talk about everything
under the sun, make each other laugh
when we least expect it
and neither of us wants
to say goodnight. and yet
I never dare
and you don’t seem to care
to suggest
that we sit in the back seat.
what would we do,
who would we be
without our safety precautions?

I’m afraid to find out
if I’ll become a stranger to myself
or you’ll decide you can no longer abide
my bothersome corporeality
in such a confined space
and yet I secretly long
for a some sneaky, underhanded
chance, some miracle,
some blessing,
to let me get
just a little bit
closer.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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