Drink Driving (Susan Austin)

dusty dashboard.
He pauses to belch before worming
the key into the ignition.
Outside the pub they stumbled
into stained bucket-seat relief –
escaped provocations,
skins safe against seats.
Two years they’ve been going there,
every Saturday night,
still he stirs up trouble.
Now the highway –
relief has long since sped away.
He fumbles to change the station to classic hits.
Her vodka-softened eyes camp on the ripped vinyl window-frame,
taking in the dim-lit road, lightly wet
the white lines that appear, disappear
the forested edges that come close before swerving away.
A moment of lurching light-pole fear.
He doesn’t notice her jump
but grips the wheel, straightening up,
frowning with the effort to focus.
She clutches her seat-belt and thinks
about self-respect and whiplash,
jealous of the car in front holding the road steady.