Pretend there’s a cup of water on the dashboard,
said the former ambulance driver,
and you must drive so carefully, so gently,
you don’t spill a drop.
I tried, I tried so hard after his surgery
to make the drive as gentle as a feather
drifting onto a cloud. But unexpected road
cracks, hidden bumps and train tracks—
even rumbled over so slowly—pained him.
I noted every wince crinkling his closed eyes.
I could not soften the blows enough.
Today, on the longest day of the year,
I drive you home from the hospital—
a thick strip of tape over your newest incision,
your belly chartreuse with four-day-old bruises,
clutching two pillows to your middle after
your second major surgery in a year
of near-constant pain.
Your pod of protectors wants it to stop—
we try to bump you to the surface for air,
we hover over and around you with
pills and puddings, sweet tea and toast,
books and distractions.
We are present; we are witnesses to your suffering.
But we are as helpless as the two new kittens
who await you at home—clueless, really,
stuck in our love.
We do not believe we are enough.
But you guide me through town as I gentle
the car around divots and cracks.
You direct me to the easiest onramp.
Mid-afternoon traffic parts, allows us
smooth passage over a typically bumpy sea.
We pull into the driveway, breathe,
look at each other across the stretch
of this long friendship.
You were perfect, you say.
You didn’t spill a drop.