I glance in the rear-view mirror accidentally, glimpse your petrified face, bracing. My mother’s knuckles sinking into the ceiling. My brother scarfing down an apathetic burger as he stares at evergreen trees.
They say driving a car is like riding a bike, but the last time I pedaled through the neighborhood, my knees wept for a week. At the end of the summer, I will drive this car into a stranger’s & gape as it bleeds gray-blue. Don’t worry, you won’t see this happen.
Sweat polishes the steering wheel, lets it shine. My sneaker stutters over the gas, unsure. You are practically screaming at me with your lips in a line. If I listen too intently, I’ll crash the passenger side mirror into a lovely fish-shaped mailbox. We dip into the wrong lane.
My mother mutters prayers as I pull into the driveway, her fingers dancing over ghost-rosary beads. In the end, I let her take a loop around the cul-de-sac to park backwards, the way she & my father always insist. We hear her muttering through the cracked window.
Your expression betrays you, still bracing as we sink our heels into steady concrete. My brother leaves us his wilted leftover fries, unbothered.
Noreen Ocampo is a Filipina American writer double-majoring in English and Film Studies at Emory University. Her poetry appears or is forthcoming in Marías at Sampaguitas, 3 Moon Magazine, and Royal Rose, among others.