Afterlife
by Joseph Kerschbaum


In the distance, two minuscule lights
appear in front of me. Snow has been falling all evening.
The roads are slick as liars’ tongues. My hands
grip the wheel as if I am strangling
a confession out of it, as though if I hold on tight enough
I’ll maintain control. The yellow line turns
from a dashed doorway into a solid warning.
As I drive this two-lane highway
with a car coming from the opposite direction
I think about the slightest adjustment
that would gently slide my car to the other side
of the imaginary wall that splits this road
in half and I would become one
with whatever follows four headlights
slamming into each other like two bulls
full of steam and hostility. My need
to be shattered is not constant. Despair
comes to me in mouthfuls that I refuse
to swallow but the bitter taste coats my dry lips.
Dark roads present solutions as easy as letting
go and allowing my car to drift
into the path of oncoming traffic.
The lights are getting brighter like regret
gains weight as you lay in bed at night
rehearsing your failures,
each fractured scene shatters further
with each attempt to glue it together.
The splintering of memories is silent
the way fingers letting go of a steering wheel
don’t make a sound. The darkest moment
is the brightest moment when the lights
blind you with their intensity.
I open my eyes to find the road, to regain
my bearings. I choose to make it home safely, unbuckle
my safety belt and live. As I fall
asleep I wonder if the driver of the car that passed me
too closely to that yellow line
also decided not to swallow
their spoonful of oblivion
just then.






Copyright 2021 by Red River Review. First Rights Reserved. All other rights revert to the authors.
No work may be reproduced or republished without the express written consent of the author.