“Flow” by Stephen McDonald

Stephen McDonald


On the road, swinging into traffic,
shifting from one lane to the next
until I am in the flow, heading down
the freeway at a steady pace, enough
distance between me and the car
I follow, a few feet between me
and those I pass or who pass me,
all of us whizzing along together
in our own lanes like beams of light,
orderly photons heading toward
our targets, until from somewhere
behind us a disturbance in our
advancing wave, something has
splashed into our pattern and is pushing
forward, its Doppler action throwing
all of us into an unsettled shifting
as the steady spaces between us
now narrow or elongate and then
someone switches lanes and all
the spaces have changed as still
the pressure from the rear builds
and approaches until there you
are, racing peripherally past,
pushing and shifting and sliding
from one small space behind and
between us to the next, whipping
in and around like a pike in a pond
of minnows—and then you are gone,
the white and red tail of your lights
flashing in the distance as the pattern
around me shifts and slowly settles.

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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