You could blame the Pa. turnpike-

The throbbing monotony of the Northeast extension.

There had been times the anxiety of the drive

Forced me to pull over,

my heart beating too fast

unable to catch my breath.

Human beings were not meant to hurtle

forward through space at 65 mph.

But there was no stopping on Easter Day 2002.

I kept driving.

We had taken separate cars.

He left mom’s the day before “to check the mail,”

as if he had stopped trying to cover his suspicious tracks

with the pretense of logical excuse,

now just leaving the lies laying around in the open

like other husbands might toss sweaty work clothes

anywhere but the hamper

or not put dirty dishes in the sink.

I kept driving though the tears.

Hadn’t seen this downpour coming;

didn’t know I was so unhappy,

that the unhappiness had metastasized to this fatal stage.

(When was the last time I even thought about myself?

Too busy trying to be a good

journalist activist playwright volunteer friend

mother to the two little girls in the back seat

who didn’t understand why Mommy suddenly couldn’t stop crying.)

Mommy didn’t even understand why Mommy was crying.

I hadn’t realized I had given up on being a wife

until that moment after the Hickory Run Plaza,

driving stick straight into a destiny I couldn’t imagine-

A blown-up life about to be defined

by haunting insecurity and reckless self-discovery,

swimming instinctively to a precarious shore

with two kids on my back

as their father’s leaking ship continued

a slow disintegrating descent

to his toxic dead beat bottom. 

-ag

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