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Out Of Habit

Gary Hyland
From:   After Atlantis. Thistledown Press, 1991.


They discuss things in the car driving
nowhere up and down the streets so that
if one of them screams or weeps the kids
won’t be disturbed. The kids are at home
watching a Disney flick in the family room.

She is not sure how much she will tell him
whether to mention the other man or maybe
just the job having to keep her away.

He sits too erect, arms stiff, hands tight.
Tonight is different in a way he doesn’t know
What has happened? What is going on?
Everything he says begins with but.
It’s raining. He can’t find the wiper switch..

She wishes she’d brought some cigarettes. Now
that she has started she has to finish the job.
Somewhere in this purse there are cigarettes.
His rational spiel is almost over. She
breathes deeply. mumbles that she doesn’t want
to be married. She has no reasons. Just that.
There is no traffic, no one on the sidewalks.
She looks at house lights through wet glass.
How many of them, she wonders, how many.

He pulls into a closed service station.
Trying to expel the pain, coughing , crying, he
doubles over, slams himself against the door,

She lights a cigarette and takes a slow drag.
He looks like one of those black and white
films, the old ones where nothing much happens.

He gets out, walks a while in the cool rain,
over and over slamming wet fist into wet palm.

Her breath mists the windows. He gets in,
turns on the defogger, the headlights, the wipers.
Out of habit, the car returns them to the house.


Gary Hyland's works copyright © to the author.


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