Because He Was Driving

and had been for hours,
I was free to take note of the mountains,
their slopes valleying into dawn,

as though sitting where I was,
in a 1988 Plymouth Colt looking west
made me privy to the future’s unspooling.

Driving through the night will make you
think this way — landscape unraveling,
the sun as it opens on something new.

So it was here, at the height of Vermont,
when he turned, his eyes two glassy seeds,
to tell me how he killed a cat once.

How he and his brother were playing
with their Dad’s hunting rifle
(never hidden quite high enough);

and how the click of the chamber
had blurred with the shot; and that the whine
of the cat was loud, but also muffled

by cotton they’d stuffed in their ears.
There was less blood than I’d have thought;
it was more like a trickle.
He said

he watched it leak out and wondered
where the rest of it was, and if the soul
was somehow clotted into the animal

like its blood.  And it was stupid, he knew,
but at the time it reminded him of the house
his dad built after the divorce, the way sap

would trickle slowly out of the timber frame,
as it settled year by year into the ground.

About the author

A native of New Jersey who travels less often she'd like, Moriah Cohen has a nomad’s heart, having visited Israel, Ireland, England, and Paris.…

Read the full bio

Issue 10 · September 2010

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