The highway is straight
and smooth, only one lane
in each direction…
no barrier in the center,
no guard rails on the sides…
nighttime, no white lines
mark the edges of the road…
all that can be seen
is the oval puddle of light
from the headlights
of my speeding car.
I jerk awake as I feel
the left tires bounce
on the shoulder of the road…
I have crossed
the wrong lane…I know
my wife is beside me, but
I cannot open my eyes…
I cry out, but her seat belt
holds her too tightly
for her to reach the wheel…
my eyes open for one second,
then all is dark again…
I cannot stay awake…
I whimper and shudder.
The terror remains
even after I realize
we are in our own bed
and I have been dreaming.
Her brother let the clutch out much too fast
the first time he tried to start up the van
in the parking lot of the store that closed.
I told her how he lurched and jerked and ran
over the orange cones that I took to use
from soccer practice as a parking space.
The VW died, he swore, but tried
again and then again–giving more gas
and slooowly letting up the clutch. She learned
and did the opposite: the engine roared
as she held in the clutch and mashed the gas
pedal to the floor. I yelled to be heard
above the engine noise, “Let up, let up!”
and as she pulled both feet up, the car died,
of course. She threw the keys at me and cried.