after Emily Bitto

Ask yourself—when have you ever been free?
The question pressures within you like an infected sinus
as you drive through the loose curls of mid-morning
frustration clotted in your gut,
seething between your clenched teeth.
How do you swallow the barbed truth of never
that you had been trying to disavow
like the gradual tightening of your favourite jeans.

You drive that thin-spooled bitumen
throwing yourself into the scene as if it was momentous.
This speed, this road meaning something more
than the last hundred-something times.
This crest, your life opening out
as you hurtle over, eyes screwed shut,
like idiocy grants ownership,
like survival is more than luck.

Gut in the backseat, you plummet
over the lip and into the tight-wooded valley
but not even gravity will give you up.
The road keeps looping forward
in its yesterday way
shackling you to the same destination
with a kindness belying its hard authority.
Cows watch you from their shared destiny
as you swallow hard, hit the brake
and take the barb deeper inside
hoping that for a few more quiet hours
you won’t feel the jag.