Car Rides, Past Lives
In the backseat,
Joking jovially with my brother
Rock n' roll
Thrumming in the air
Mom and Dad
In the battered front seats,
Sweetly holding hands
The acrid stench of cigarette smoke
Filtering out open car windows
A time past,
Trapped in the vestiges of childhood
A time I long to return to
Riding in the backseat
Mom came to pick you up from camp and the unending ride in the backseat began. You hated riding in the car. Some people like watching the world go by through the window, or not having to concentrate on anything but the music or the conversation, but not you. You just felt invisible. As the youngest of three, with seven years between you and your brother, nine with your sister, you felt like no one ever had anything to say to you that wasn’t screamed, and in the backseat, you seemed to disappear. They didn’t even notice you enough to scream at you.
That day, your brother started to argue with Mom about picking him up late. Then, your sister yelled at him to drive himself or get a ride from a friend. He told her to mind her own business and she hit him on the head. He turned around to return the smack and Mom screamed something like ‘stop’ or ‘watch’ or ‘ohmygod.’ Really, you don’t know what she screamed. No one does. For in that brief moment that you took your eyes from the darkness beyond the window to gaze at your siblings, an 18-wheeler lost control on the other side of the road and swerved into your lane. There was nothing Mom could do. No braking, no reversing, no swerving out of the way. No last rites, no moment to say “I’m sorry for all the rotten things I’ve ever done.” In an instant, you and Mom were dead.
You were only nine. You never got to take the wheel.
Is it weird that my happiest memory doesn’t involve me?
I was 13 and riding in the backseat. My fourteen year old friend and his girlfriend (my other 14 year old friend) were driving to the lake to do god-knows-what and I was third wheeling like a pro. They get out and I stay in the car, reading a book. I don't know how long I read or how long I sat in the car, but when I looked up, I saw them splashing eachother and laughing. Knowing that both of these people had horrible lives and depression, it made me feel really good, knowing that they always had eachother to count on.
Silence in the Backseat
I was riding in the backseat
How many years had it been?
That my father drove me ’round
It was a few more years than ten
My mom was in the front seat
The ride was very quiet
The fifteen miles we traveled
Not a word; somber and silent
There were many cars in line with us
And opposite our path
Headlights lit in honor
Every car that we had passed
The motorcycle sped ahead
Letting us make way
Toward the cemetery
And a freshly dug out grave
We rounded the last corner
Before we finally entered
My heart began to pound
And still now, as I remember
I searched for something I could hold
A thought to give me peace
And uttered it aloud
From there, in the backseat
We crossed a couple cattle guards
Breaking all the silence
I looked out of the window
Wind was bending tall dead grasses
It was fall and seemed quite fitting
The harvest of a soul
With the leaves all changing colors
On the tree-lined cemetery road
Through the iron gate
We passed slowly, to a stop
I glanced toward the hearse
Parked on the hill, atop
My mouth was dry; how could I do this?
Please don’t make me go
I thought quite like a child that day
Could my dad be my hero?
He couldn’t save me though
The car still slowly creeping
So, I gathered all my strength
When we finally finished moving
I emerged, there, from the backseat
My dad reached out his hand
And led me ’cross the path
To the coffin of my husband
Riding In The Back Seat
There were five of us eight, if you counted my cousins. All crammed in the back seat in each other’s laps or laying in the rear window of the car in a time where seat belts weren’t installed. The youngest would be in a contraption that hung over the front seat which didn’t lock. The second youngest in the passenger side lap of an adult. We would be on the way to Tuttle Lake flying down Duck Creek Road. There were two ducts under the gravel road on the way across the marsh. If you went fast enough, you felt you were air born for couple of seconds. “Faster, faster!” we’d shout at my mom or aunt, whomever was driving that day would put the pedal to the metal. Squished together in the back seat we were on a roller coaster! That ride to Tuttle Lake was more fun than the swimming that followed.
"I feel like a taxi driver,"
He noted, I smiled. We waited.
I spotted Abi in the distance, and when she saw us waiting she did her funny awkward run over to us. She always reminded me of a fawn, newborn when they dont really know how to use their limbs.
"Hi!" She said, breathless, clambouring into the backseat with me. She wasn't wearing contacts.
"Missed your alarm?" I asked.
She sighed, "Completely."
As we pulled away we saw Abis dad getting into his own car for work, and I could see a grin hidden behind my dads face in the rearview mirror, as he rolled down his window.
He put on a voice, and yelled, "I'VE KIDNAPPED YOUR CHILD! MWAHAHAHA"
And I think that was the moment I knew I wanted to be like him.
For years I’ve loved the view.
From my corner,
I could see all of you.
Sitting there singing, laughing,
We were so in sync, always together.
I have always felt safe
Backseat, right passenger,
Where you are privy to pulse of the car.
I could concentrate on us, the coversation,
And who we would be upon reaching our
You were always at the wheel, Mom
By your side, I the chief navigator and peacekeeper, and Penny the forever child.
We rode this way for so long,
I felt so safe.
Time has passed and the roles have changed.
I drive alone now.
I remember when were together.