It matters, yes, who’s at the wheel, where you’re headed,
tires humming a low rumble on the road, hills rocking like the sides
of a great wooden cradle—let’s say it’s your dad up front,
his Old Spice aftershave and cup of black coffee
braiding with the summer winds that blow, rushing and warm
through every open window—pine, asphalt, diesel, pine.
He’s tuned in something classical, sad, that you hear
and don’t hear, distant as that hawk gliding overhead,
which you watch with one eye squinting, face tipped to the sun,
your hair streaming—even ranging like that, the hawk seems to know
exactly where it is; if it’s following signs, you can’t see them.
Orientation’s a mystery, a thing you’ll look up when you get home,
whenever that is, and then you’ll know how it works for a while,
sensors in the eyes, until the answer changes.
From the jut of his head you can tell your dad’s thoughts
are strict, maybe mean, and the music, the cigarette,
his white knuckles on the wheel
are a way you know it’s hard, his life, and you can’t help
except by keeping still, not asking when will we get there—
he’s lonely, you think, maybe lost, which is another question
you leave for now to the road ahead.
Kimberly Cloutier Green
Kimberly Cloutier Green is a poet and collaborating artist living in Kittery Point, Maine. Her poetry collection, The Next Hunger, was a Maine Literary Awards finalist in 2014. Her work, published in several journals, has been supported by awards and fellowships from Bread Loaf, MacDowell, and Hawthornden. She is a former Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH.