Past midnight, you woke me,
Your eyes a palette of tired red.
Four hours of road stood between
Us and your mother’s hospital bed.
“Everything’s fine,” you told me.
“She’s just lonely and wants us to visit.”
You handed me the car keys;
I was too tired to ask for specifics.
The car sputtered a stream of exhaust
And the tires glided, dreamlike,
On the thin layer of fairytale frost,
Gleaming in the soft moonlight.
Onto tree branches the skies sprinkled snow,
Tossed onto the canvas of night air
By the wind’s playful hand, sketching ghosts.
Ahead of us a red flair
Warned that our exit had been closed,
Due to the thickening sheet Of ice.
I turned to let you know,
But you were sleeping.
Past us. Through the mist, I saw
The outline a young deer that leaped on to the road.
I slowed to a crawl—
But you stayed asleep.
The woods and snow faded, replaced
By the billboards of the nearing city.
A veil of cloud now hid the moon’s face;
The black of the night grew heavy.
Your cell in the cup holder sang a lullaby.
But still you slept. I answered the phone
And learned that your mother had died.
As if in benediction, the day broke.
The skyscrapers stood solemn, stacked tight.
They pointed to the dawn, like fingers of hands clasped
In prayer. The ethereal pink light
Expanded over the sky like a blanket.
I turned to tell you about your mother.
But—like her— you were lost, deep
In another world. For a moment longer,
I’d let the two of you be together, in sleep.