Barbara Louise Ungar

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Whose Truck Is Parked in Your Drive

How everyone knows who you’re seeing. Artwork by Gene McCormick
How your ex must seethe at the pickup
in your drive when he drops off the kid.
Late for work again, you’re stuck
behind his despised SUV, have to
tail him all the way to the freeway,
trapped on the back routes he taught you.
An iron band constricts heart to gut—

mobius strip of love-turned-hate.
You can’t evade him or this commute,
these years on the chain gang
of shared custody. Fall back, keep him
in front, your eye on him—he could
ram you from behind. Cars intervene,
peel aside, till you’re windshield-to-bumper
again, each steeled in your armored car.                                          

So clear in the rearview the impending
wreck that was your marriage—the slow-mo,
inevitable slide to crash, wrangling
over damages, whiplash that lingers
for years. From your ten-year-old Honda,
your ex-wife X-ray vision can see
all the way inside to the wounded
three-year-old maneuvering his tank.


The Blues Sister

Driving at night with sunglasses on.Artwork by Gene McCormick
At work that morning, found my handbag
gone. Had to detour for accidents
twice, get lost on familiar streets
whose names I can’t read in the double
darkness, and end up back where I started.
Don’t get pulled over by cops
who find I don’t have my license;
get home hours late to a dark
house and the missing bag
on the bed, where I’d left it.

Don’t have to replace everything—
just the lights burned out all over
the house, and no man to help
with the difficult fixture.

Flying dream: a murmuration
of black birds above, but can’t
flip over to see the lake below—
the flippers are slipping off
my sweaty feet and might hurt
someone, and how would I get
home without them? Eagles
and carrion birds drift
among the smaller flocks.
There must be something dead
down there.


Barbara Louise Ungar’s books are Thrift; The Origin of the Milky Way; and Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life. She lives in Saratoga Springs and teaches writing and literature at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, but hopes that won’t be held against her.