The Full Car

Here I am, driving along on the interstate by myself, and it starts,
first the rain, then the sleet, and then they start in too, all of them,
the old men crowded on the seat next to me, the women in back,
and it’s hard to concentrate, because they’re all talking, and I’ve got
enough on my mind with thinking about Charlie telling me you ought
to get ready for a good time and trying to remember the directions
and which exit to take, all the time Uncle Al yammering, watch yourself,
missy and turn that damned radio down, and how I can barely hear
Dad whisper, you gotta use your head, look way down the road,
and sweet cousin  Joe just saying, honey, don’t go so fast, and I know
what they’re talking about, and so do the aunts, all hysterical, and mom
in the back seat not saying a thing, just staring out the window,
while old-maid Ruthie shrieks, it’s dangerous, you could die, go back
while you still can, and I can’t help thinking about the black shiny shoes
she bought me for my first communion and how the house smelled
at Christmas, and just like that, I turn into a gas station and call up Charlie
to see about meeting me for coffee some place closer to home.

—Mary Wehner, Fond du Lac, WI