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.