In Traffic, and the Seams Unravel

A black Chevy Suburban, seventh generation, either late 70’s or early 80’s. Rust beyond cosmetic, beyond surface. Rear window panel rolled all the way down into the rear door. In the front sit two boys with baseball caps, a girl between them. All look straight ahead. The wind blows through the open windows, catching stray hair, fluttering sleeves, rustling wrappers and such discarded on the floorboards.

You bristle. Or you don’t.

The first warm day of summer, sun-cracked vinyl seats. A ride with your brothers, boy cousins, neighborhood boys. Just three weeks ago on a Saturday it was snowing.

You may remember an offer of a ride, you reach for the back door. “No,” one of them says, “sit up front with us.” You are too smart to understand, too stupid. Too young. Too loved.

Black vinyl cracks in sunlight, in freeze, reveals the orange-tinted foam fill, weeping its furred insides. The edges of vinyl serrate, cut and prick. The seams unravel, plastic thread like spools of dental floss, spun plastic, too tough to finger wrap and sever. Snag. Bother. Black vinyl seats burn thighs even on the first day of summer baked beyond the pane of glass rolled up.

Or you don’t. Bristle.

Brothers or boy cousins or neighborhood boys take you for a ride, catching you on the way home from school. The way older boys’ skin felt bracing against your own. The way they smiled crookedly out of the sides of their mouths as they turned off the main road.

The trees, just budding, crowd the narrow one-lane. Up and up before the crest, and drop as the asphalt falls away. “Close your eyes,” one of them says. You do. Ever obedient. We called them ticklish hills, these belly-flop drops, but you had to have enough speed, to pretend you didn’t know what was coming – look up or away, best yet: close your eyes. Be surprised by what you know is coming.

C. Kubasta writes poetry, prose and hybrid forms. She is the author of the chapbooks, A Lovely Box and &s, and a full-length collection, All Beautiful & Useless (BlazeVOX, 2015). Her next book, Of Covenants, is forthcoming from Whitepoint Press in 2017. She is active with the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, and serves as Assistant Poetry editor with Brain Mill Press. She thinks poetry, like humor, porn, & horror, should be a body genre. Find her at

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