Asleep at the Wheel by Charles Kell

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Asleep at the Wheel

Father was here again last
night, wandering around with

a hole in his hand, blood
dripping down where he drove

the nail between forefinger
and thumb thirty years ago.

Should be used to these things
by now. The way every time

I pass a window my reflection
darkens, grey clouds rise

from an ocean, bolted
there. His hands were

always moving, little cuts
and callouses from constant

work. Mine too: splinters
from the sawmill taking three

slow weeks to work their way out.
I drink and drive less often now.

Never really nod off unless
I’m up for days on end. Was this

the last time I saw him? Silent,
mouthing words I could not quite

make out? The hospital in Ohio?
No, it was behind the wheel

of his red truck, eyes barely open.
I was asleep in the back under

the cab, and we were driving
somewhere far away and warm,

a place we would never reach.

Charles Kell

Charles Kell is a PhD student at The University of Rhode Island and editor of The Ocean State Review. His poetry and fiction have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Orleans Review, The Saint Ann’s Review, floor_plan_journal, The Manhattanville Review, and elsewhere. He teaches in Rhode Island and Connecticut.