driving the malahat

Mid-October, driving southbound on the Malahat
There is no snow, but the air bites winter cold:
Rushes in the backseat; all windows down
And I know I am not a child but I feel like a child
Lulled by the serpentine curvature of these roads,
Swaddled in your down parka; I could almost sleep.

This warped road nudges me, and I know I could sleep
With you driving as you do; north, southbound, on the Malahat
Or other highways; east, westbound fog-blasted roads.
I curl in your parka and think: This cold is not so cold,
This fog, your blue-stained mountain lips, our unhad-child,
This life that can’t be ours. We turn a curve, the road slopes down

Descending fog into fog, from the top, we amble down.
You’re gentle on the breaks, the gears. I could almost sleep:
I pretend to sleep so I can dream of the life, the child
I couldn’t let us have. Eyes closed, I can’t see the Malahat
Fog seeping in, all windows down and it really isn’t so cold
Wrapped in your parka, windows down, no ice on the roads

Mid-October. This road just continues onto more roads
With you as the driver, we could keep going south, down,
Down the twisted coastal map, southbound out of cold
Mountain passes to a beach where, in sweat-drenched sleep,
We would yearn for the all-windows-down chill of the Malahat.
And I would remind you, again and again, as I might a child

I can’t (but some days I wish I could) have your child.
Instead, I sleep and leave you alone to drive these roads
And leave you with the windows down and the Malahat
Fog chilling your parka-less torso; instead, I slip down
Into a dream, thick and syrupy like (but not quite) sleep.
And I feel like a child, kept awake by the slapping cold,

The tumbling Malahat fog, I can’t grasp this kind of cold,
Can’t pinch it like salt, or like skin. I know I am only a child
With bones stretched snug in skin, growing like this: to sleep
Without dream, to dream in the backseat, watching the roads
Lined with tree tips and darkness, the windows rolled down
So the Malahat fog can seep in, so I can envy the Malahat

For its sleek curvature, cold and dark: I think I know these roads
Like I know the child we can’t have, swaddled in your down
Parka, you let me sleep, driving as you do along the Malahat.

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