The Quiet of the Highway

By: Elena Unger

Tonight Mom drives on black glass
one story below infinity.
Dad sits quietly
and I fold over in my sister’s lap,
her hand resting on my ribs
like a warm, pulsing shield.

We are swarmed by rushing rivers
of blurried tail lights
and softened headlights,
yet the world holds its breath.

Each car that passes
carries a new beginning
or an unhealed goodbye
singing from raw throats,
and yet the world holds its breath.

I make out the reflections
of parked cars and shopping malls
on the glass of my sister’s window.
The glow of scattered street lamps
colors my pupils with flecks of gold.
I see a man pumping gas
and a woman weeping,
yet the world holds its breath.

Mom is careful to avoid the cars
that weave and stray and jolt,
the drivers who are drunk
on the loneliness of December
and lost in the letters of home.
She stares straight at the sky,
my father at her.

I teeter on the edge of sleep,
tuned in to the symphony of my sister’s body,
and it is in the cavernous gut of the night
that I wonder
if the running quiet is meant to be filled
with hope or grief.