Visiting Cousin Rob in Little Rock
His wife was blond and pretty like mom
used to be in pictures. Their house
was so clean I was afraid to sit, so I stood.
These people lived sober lives without fear
of the man screaming in the kitchen,
the woman dying in the bedroom, the smoldering
eruption of frustration, spiked down
like butterfly wings on a page for too long.
We left late instead of staying the night,
my brother grumbling, listening to Jethro Tull
on the radio. In the darkness of Fair Oaks, we came
to a railroad crossing. A train thundered past,
sudden clouds of fire engulfed the roof
of the locomotive. My brother turned
down a side road and paced the thing. The heat
wafted against us. The engine of his minivan
growled, angry as he pulled ahead. The highway
crossed the tracks, we turned and cleared the bump, airborne
for a moment, darkness all around except for that
fiery thing less than ten feet
away, bearing down on us.
I could see my brother's short hair
framed in fire.
He slowed as it passed behind us, not even
blowing a whistle. The adrenalin
drained out of me, taking everything
else from that day with it, the fear,
the anger. "Why'd you do that?" I said
“It's late," he said, "I didn't want to wait."
That wasn't it, but I knew what he meant.
© CL Bledsoe