Night Scene
by M. Doretta Cornell

There were four of them
in the parking lot,
one barely teenage,
the others almost that,
wrestling with the jeep,
their uncle's, they told me
when I asked what was wrong.
They'd slipped the brake,
and the clutch, it seemed,
and the jeep inched
tantalizingly slowly
toward the trees.
They leaned their strength
against the grill,
yelling, slipping in the slush.
One tried the ignition;
the strangled shriek
scared them,
as the ton and a half of steel
they fought to move
did not.

I found reverse, stalled twice,
then steered it back in place.
They thanked me,
grateful for the reprieve
from their uncle's anger,
unaware of the tire tracks
dissolving from their skin.

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