Doubling Down

I remember I was terrified, I remember
she sped up faster and faster,
hitting the wheel of the car, worse, worse
than anything was how she was crying
and I felt the swirling, my head, my eyes,
my ears like a hurricane or tornado,
the music which I loved and sang along to,
my mother’s voice which I loved, and the speed
of the car which I also loved edging up and up and up,
as if my body itself might swirl
through the roof of the car and out, heavenward.
The night wings, my mother rolled our windows down,
our lungs already filled with cold and ice.
I saw my mother as beautiful,
her hair wet with rain, thrown with wind
and in this I felt I was also beautiful,
and we were racing on. Where were we going?
My mother wouldn’t say, or didn’t know.
Didn’t matter anyways, I would race
into the darkness anywhere just to feel my arms around her,
and when my mother turned to me, she asked
Do you think I’ve been a good enough mother?
Do you think I’ll go to heaven? Do you want me to be an angel?
I pretended I didn’t understand, but part of me understood,
even then, in my little white sundress and my little summer sandals
and my lips smeared with lollipop resin.
Sitting on my knees in the passenger seat,
I looped my goose-pimpled pink arms
around her neck and held her close, what gamblers call doubling down,
because wherever she went, I would go, too.

Sherine Elise Gilmour graduated with an M.F.A. in Poetry from New York University. She was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming from Green Mountains Review, Many Mountains Moving, Oxford University Press, River Styx, So To SpeakTinderbox, and other publications. 

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