“Driving Down I-85.” Kailah Trice, (2020).

June 19, 2020

Driving down I-85 with my head
hanging heavy, dreary from a desk job

filing papers nine to five. I want a new life. 

The radio plays the same eight songs an hour. 

Commercials phase between car repair, 

child-care and the newest superfood 

white people have just “discovered.”

Around me, 18 wheelers and compact cars

commute through traffic, but don’t realize 

they’re part of it. The 5’oclock sun 

hazily visible through the plume of smog.

Drivers slump over their wheels, tired 

from an 8-hour hell. They trudge through 

the mess of lanes to reach their lowly 

homes and prepare to start the cycle again. 

All but one. 

He sits tall in his minivan, eyes wide,

gaping at the sky with an emotion 

I don’t recognize anymore.

The sun’s glare fades as a shadow 

takes its place. Drivers 

straighten their backs and become

entranced like the man in the minivan.

Unfazed, I drive until traffic

crawls to a halt. By now, people 

have stepped out of their cars

to stare at the sun like lunatics. 

I roll my eyes and look up. 

A giant humpback whale

glides past the sun as slowly 

as it might in the ocean. But,

I’ve never seen one before. 

Somehow, I end up next to 

the man in the minivan. He steps 

out of his car, looks over at me 

and motions to roll down my window. 

I turn off my radio, and Drake is replaced 

with vibrations of a soulful cry coupled with 

majestic movements, backbends and flips 

as the whale makes its way overhead. 

I gaze at the beast and see 

sunlight glisten like a halo around it. 

The man with the minivan looks at me

to confirm we’re seeing the same thing.

The whale flies across the sky, 

and lowers until it disappears 

behind a canopy of trees. I have the urge to 

weep alongside my road mates while the sun

stages its comeback. 

We stay in silence until the whale’s melody fades.

Around me, people climb into their cars 

and begin to drive away. I look over as the man 

steps back into his minivan, and steals

a glance towards the canopy.


Soon, horns replace the song, and smog

fills the sky. The drivers behind me

find their road rage.

The mess of sounds is nothing 

like the cry of the whale, and instead 

of joining the madness, I sit 

and try to turn their horns into 

its soulful song.

Eventually the screams become

more than I care to take. My car 

only narrowly escapes death strokes 

of passing drivers. 

Traffic hustles, drivers

drift and honk their horns at me. 

Get out the way! Move the car,

you’re slowing down traffic!

I refuse to make a move towards the

steering wheel for fear the whale

will appear if I leave. Instead, 

I stare at the canopy 

willing it to come back.