The dark, rocky pavement I drive down
is colored a mottled slate grey.
It seems to have it’s own cryptic past
with the fields of sighing, matted hay.
The bleary sun drags on like it has to
for the last couple hours of its daytime shift.
I check the time: 5:35.
Enough time for a quick stop and a fix.
I brake and turn off the engine,
accepting quietly my fate.
This is no place for those with vengeance,
only those who capitulate.
I scramble for my lighter and blaze a cigarette,
thankful for the bitter resignation that effloresces on my tongue.
Away from home, the guilt, the mess,
the thick smoke shrouds my lungs.
I roll down the window and discard petals from a red carnation;
the one the nurse pushed into my hands after Opal’s untimely death.
She presented it as the flower of the gods,
but right then it was raw, spongy, plant matter in my hands.
In the dry silence of this wasteland, I replay my daughter’s tiny inhalations;
her heart beating; thud-thudding.
The most tenacious metronome,
against my chest.