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November 16, 2022


Cas Stone

We drove through the trees to the traffic.

There is a stretch of interstate from the plantations to the capital that always backs up. I have never made it all the way without hitting gridlock. Before, we listened to old mixtapes from artists who hit it big off the internet. The sky stewed hope, hot oil. Air filtered me, my heels wheeled, limbs levered gears. I could feel the road between my toes like a child running through the woods with bare feet.

The grid appeared in the periphery and next thing I knew was my vision. It ground us to a halt. The turbulence clobbered me. The music became a migraine. The windows let out stale air and in simmered gasoline. The cars around us all played music, too, the sound of a party from an unclean bathroom, some revved their engines at the stop light they couldn’t blow through, some smoked like glassy sand after artillery, all broadcast misery, which would not alleviate itself, as it wasn’t feeling like we’re alone in it, it was feeling like we’d never be alone again. Time passed, wasted, sick all over the pavement.

After, the cars ahead cut their break lights, fireflies from an uncapped jar gone still and silent. On the right flashed primary colors, sirens. A livestock trailer sat on its roof in a ditch. My steel toes tapped the gas pedal. I exhaled into exhaust pipe sinews. The sky would soon reopen. But, as it did, I turned and slowed, on reflex, enough to keep the pattern.

A pig, intestines spilled across the concrete, breathed heavy on its side. Paramedics, police officers, maybe others sat in a crescent moon around it. They wore the expressions of distressed loved ones by a presumed deathbed they’d visited for decades. No one helped the pig but they’d stay near until it died.