ON INTERSTATE 89 NORTH by Kerrin McCadden

/ / Issue 18

I don’t know how close I was. 
I was not paying attention to him

or his raised middle finger, which
he was tired of holding up,

his face lowered out the window at me,
glass down, even though the air 

was freezing in upstate Vermont.
I have sped past, unthinking, it’s true.

I have sped past so many things.
How many miles until I know what I have done

is always the question. For a minute, 
I thought I should be afraid

and watched him in my mirror in case
he sped to catch me. I have sped past and have been 

unthinking so many times I want 
the world to know. Once, a man leaned out 

a passenger window and fired his gun at the sky
as I sped past. One time, a deer jumped 

across my hood, which was accelerating, 
while my son and I belted out, 

Why do you build me up (build me up) 
Buttercup, baby 

just to let me down.
And nothing was the same afterward.

He grew, next, into someone 
I’m desperate to track, to keep from harm,

to follow into the underbrush, wearing
orange vests or branches, depending.

The man crouched down in his fast, small car.
He stayed in line and left the highway

without closing his window. 
Which was when I knew I was still alone.

A sign: one semi-truck cab hauling identical cabs 
—one climbing up on the next, identical.

I know I was not wrong.
The way one carried the next, as if knowing

there was no other way to go.
And each was precisely like the other

so I craned my neck as I sped past them, too,
in case they, too, were astonishing.