on Chef Menteur Highway as the wine bottle
conks the back of her head. The Wal-Mart sign
flashes us, the darkness so black, I can only
see the white of her teeth as she shrieks. I signal
to the police hoping they will see me summoning
from the rear window. The tin foil covering
Jesus’ leftovers tears and the mashed potatoes
spill on the backseat. Collard greens stain
my jeans. The blue and red sirens pull
our car over and the tires’ halt stops
our faceless father from striking again.
I am ready to break the scent with my teeth.
I breathe out nothing but, the gas light
cut on. I thought we’d crash, in the voice
of the child I am who wants nothing
but a family to continue living in the type
of quiet a fracture can give to the throat.
The officer pats my shoulder, turns his mouth
up in a watermelon grin. On the ride home,
I reach across the front seat’s threshold past
Jesus’ hand—which is enveloped in God’s—
to turn on the radio. God pushes his thumb
through the hole in her hand with the same
force Deniece Williams pushes out a note:
Oh love, Oh love, stop making a fool of me,
He belts to Jesus because singing is the closest
some men come to crying. I cannot say
anything else. The night ripples through us.