Discreet Conversations Just Below the Surface


Go straight. Do not turn. Where you are
is neither right nor left. Left is where you left
your children, not on some broad stretch
of highway, but home. Right is the parking lot
on the outskirts of Vegas. Best to go straight.
Directions can be so confusing. We forget
the landmarks, where to bear. Oh yes, and only
stop when absolutely necessary. Remember too,

there will be a lot of desert. Whatever you do,
don’t turn back. It will be difficult, I know.
Only three days ago you dressed, kissed your girls
off to school, didn’t show up for work.
Only two days ago they stood with him
at Home Depot, got to choose what color
to re-paint the master bedroom. The report
said it was J., your youngest, who asked her father
about all the spots on the wall as they painted
together, that My dad told us they were mosquito blood.
The heat is almost unbearable when you pull over

at the rest area. The pain in your head.
All the hows and whys we didn’t get away and if only
I could rewind the days. Get back! Focus on the clean
painted line, telling you where not to weave, cross-over.
Tell any officer that might ask that you’re not drunk,
just dead, your body discovered only yesterday
in the car trunk. And when you’ve finally arrived
at your destination, let your body sink slowly into
the blue – listen to your children. Listen.
Because it’s true whales navigate by carrying on
discreet conversations with each other,
low frequency calls just below the surface,
passed on family to family.

Elle Cee Wallace has been previously published in Cold Mountain
Review, EcoTheo Review, Amsterdam Quarterly,
and San Juan
Preservation Trust.