My father must have been driving.
My mother preferred not to get behind the wheel
after dark. Or, was that my grandmother?
I always believed Nana didn’t have a license.
I bragged about carrying on
the passenger tradition.
Then I learned she did have one.
My grandfather merely refused to let her
navigate those Rockville streets alone.
So many myths to eavesdrop on.
We are traveling along some back roads
before reaching the Wilbur Cross Highway
en route to the Mass Pike. Headed home
after a day trip to visit my father’s family.
For years, I thought the definition
of Connecticut was “cousin.” Shadowy cut
slabs of schist and gneiss loop past.
I can no longer read the hieroglyphic
veins—pictograms of sinister faces
and primitive beasts—I saw
on the way out. No fear
of motion sickness this late at night,
I tumble into the way back
of the old blue Chrysler station wagon.
My mother must have talked my father
into leaving the red convertible
Austin-Healey behind in Dover.
Too cramped for a family of five.
I always had to sit on the bump
in the middle. Here I have room
to spread out limbs and thoughts
without elbowing my sisters.
Here I have room to whisper
secret stories to myself
Who are you
accusing of humming?
Swimming in a shallow pond
on the edge of an evergreen forest
becomes carving figure eights
in the ice
with skate blades
without falling down
becomes tiny wooden sailboats
floating in stagnant water
on a still summer afternoon.
The car jerks to a sudden stop.
I open my eyes, peer out the window.
No dead animals. No crushed metal. No,
we just missed the turn
onto Pine Street. Everything that binds
those two states together,
my father’s roots clamped onto my mother’s,
begins to fracture, piece by piece,
into permanent divagation.
Note: The title comes from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Moose.”