Going by Feel

I'm not sure exactly what was
going through my mind at the time;
all I knew was my fist twisting the
key in the ignition as I sped away
from you, wheels spitting gravel
and dust into the bruised eye of dawn,
not knowing where I was going, knowing
only that I was free, with the sting
of your five fingers still fresh on
my cheek, finally igniting the fire
under my ass that I had pissed into
forgiveness too many times, your stale
echo now fading in my ear that nobody
would want trash like me, anyhow, but
you sure clung like lint at any hint of
my leaving, and it felt good, damn good
to press that pedal all the way to the
fucking floor and scream away from you
with the windows down and the cold winter
air blowing my hair in my eyes, barely
able to see the road but going by feel,
knowing it was wide open and endless,
with the reliable hum of the engine to
guide me and some worn, familiar cracklings
on the old car radio to take me back to a
time when the sky was blue forever and I
never even knew your name


Beyond a knot of trees in the parking lot,
the hospital looms like a great, white
bandage masking illness and gore, and
shielding you, Dad, whose face I'd barely
known before; features originally thinned
by emotional vacuity, now whittled by
cancer and aggravated by an unwillingness
to live--having merely glided through
existence, you'd given up long ago when
you were still whole, disregarding your
own life and family, both overlooked
like a small, new-colored mole. Now
your submissive bones mold their shape
to these walls. Through the halls, the
sterile silence is deafening; murmurs of
nurses voices and rolling gurneys hushed
only by the sound of waiting as minutes
blend into hours, and days fold into
nights that never change. I see your face
through every door I pass; figures cowered
beneath sheets praying for salvation,
medication, sleep. You could be any one
of them. I tremble as I near your bed,
that vacancy called "Dad." The fact that
I am part of you, part of someone I don't
know, is frightening, enough, but your
empty gaze tells me that you do not care...
and I've wasted a trip to let you know
I'm here: the gas gauge had tipped at "E,"
but I drove blindly to get to you, to let
you know you're still family...but that is
dismissed with your wordlessness; letting
go, letting the whole thing drop as you
turn from me towards the wall, that blank
retreat that holds you safely, expecting
nothing in return...and I must leave with
your reply to guide me, to get me through
that door back out into the light of day,
into the world truly numbed, no longer
feeling the slight breeze against my face,
yet hoping I have enough ammunition to
coast through the warm stretch of
afternoon in search of gas before the engine

Cynthia Ruth Lewis:
I'm 38, having written poetry for the past 17 years. Currently back in the publishing
world after having taken a 2 year hiatus due to creative apathy and temporary insanity--
which, actually may have enhanced my writing. It has certainly enhanced my weirdness.

2005 Underground Voices