Night Drive

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
Roadlight licks the night ahead, licks
the white line on night’s new hide, licks
the undulating blacktop flat, sticks its end-
less forking tongue out onward, flicks
itself at culvert, tree, passing truck, a sign
insisting heartbeats equal conscious life
(it may be) of someone’s (maybe my)
forever unborn child. I let the knife
of wind inside and sing A Whiter Shade of Pale,
no earthly reason why, and think of what
won’t be and who, and whether it be
speed, wind, song, or my mind’s roar
that drowns for once time’s slangy whine,
here comes hope to climb clear of before;
stillborn hope with desperate, Moro-reflex,
undead grip climbs right back up my neck,
raising each pointless, residual nape hair
in ancestral salute to an absence, to the air
that won’t question itself, won’t ever check
the moral rearview. I accelerate gamely,
wondering what makes me want to leave
each person, place and thing I learn to love.
What shoves me off again, racing insanely,
as if to the place that will always save
a place for me, a room that will contain
the kind of people who’d embrace the things
I’m still afraid I’m still afraid to face.  

Source: Poetry (February 2010).


This poem originally appeared in the February 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

February 2010
 J. Allyn Rosser


J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), winner of the Morse Poetry Prize; Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award; Foiled Again, winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize; and Mimi's Trapese (2014). Her poetry has also been published in such periodicals as . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Social Commentaries, Life Choices

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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