Clear afternoon and no one on the road.
Not 3 am abandoned,
occupied like a teenager in chemistry.
Like when Jimmy-my-lab-partner
hugged me so fiercely at the end
blue eyes hidden in my shoulder
as much wanting in my flesh as
blackberries among the brambles.
The black belt of the highway
my brother sleeping – defensively.
Christmas lay ahead, but my shadow
was the phone saying this was the
family’s end because our father
had done to our step-sisters
what tar-stained fingers do to
Not sleeping, but sinking in the tar
that had everyone, that clung
to step mother, holding her in
that house for 3 years,
that seeped into the pores of
the girls to poison life.
In the green brace of the cane,
the raccoon hunched over something
on my side of the highway.
Neither one of us was ready
on the slick blacktop
and the brakeless thump did not
wake my brother, convenient tired
from a night of new-woman.
The rest of the story is the same:
I did not brake for father or his wife.
The girls were the speechless raccoon,
sitting where they were on the family road,
or the thing the raccoon hunched over.
Every one of us is the same:
no one expecting the truck
on the bend of our living
where we have paused,
for a moment,
delicately in just such a place.