The Loneliest Road: Skidding Our Flesh Straight down a Promised Aisle of Future Bliss. {poetry}


I can still see the motorcycle splayed
on the pavement…
see the flesh scraps nearby.
I was younger then,
but it’s not difficult for even a child
to make out what those seared fragments were.
What I don’t recall
is the smell.
But perhaps, that’s because
our fossil of a car
always reeked so loudly of oil.
I think maybe burnt oil
beats burning flesh
on a scorching desert day.

She was alive still,
her screams were testament to that.
And it was one of those rare moments
where I saw my mother’s emotional distance
actually work in her favor.
They both shared the same name —
the victim and she.
And my mother held her
and told her, “It wouldn’t be long now.”

Only it was longer,
because this was the loneliest road —
the one that crosses Nevada.
It’s the only time I’ve ever seen
its entirety.
Cell phones were new,
yet even now reception is sketchy
in places like these.
And it took a while
before a trucker could get word
to an ambulance.

She didn’t die.
But she wanted to.
We stayed
until they put her pavement-charred body
onto that ambulance stretcher.
strapped her down,
while her boyfriend wept beside her.
Unharmed in his leather,
I lost count
of how many times he told her
he was sorry.
I believe that he meant it.

What lingers from my 11-year-old memory banks
all these years later,
was not the gruesome scene that I saw,
but how she trusted her flesh
with a man in full leather,
while she naively held fast
with just ripped shorts and flip flops.
Thin cotton and plastic
against hot desert asphalt
do not make for good odds.
Although to be fair,
he did at least offer a helmet,
so some might say,
“He’d been generous.”

I’ve seen this sad metaphor play out
in my own life and others’.
Women who blindly trust
their very flesh
to men who would always,
always look out for themselves first,
and their lover second.
Second, if she was lucky.
Too often, she’s left behind
as an afterthought.

And yet we women
still martyr ourselves,
falling head-over-motorcycle-handlebars,
skidding our flesh straight down
a promised aisle of future bliss.
Naively tossing our own dreams
with our pretty bouquets.
Again, and again, and again.
And I wonder,
if we women will ever wake up.
When will we learn
to look out for ourselves?
For each other?
When will we ever feel worthy
to secure our own fate first?
Chase down our own dreams first?
Before blindly trusting,
foolishly accepting promises —
veiled in paper-thin protection —
From men
who would dare ask us
to trade our names
for our dignity?
Vowing our very futures
at the expense
of our own precious flesh?


Gabrielle Raines is a former army brat and a reluctant desert rat. She knew she wanted to be a writer when she was eight years old and wrote her first book report about otters. It took 30 more years of wrong turns to bring herself to pick up her pen again. Still gets lost. Still loves otters. In a long-term relationship with coffee. You’ll find her exploring the desert with her three adventurous children and deer-faced chihuahua.


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In his spare time, which is sparing at best, Jeet loves engaging his geeky side to the fullest extent -- and obsessively engages in solving puzzles of any and every kind, primarily crosswords and sudoku. A lifelong and certifiable black sheep (irrespective of skin color, since that would have qualified him as a 'brown sheep'), Jeet feels uncomfortable with certainty and strives for a meditation-driven comfort in uncertainty. He tries to spread positive awareness through Facebook, random acts of kindness, and recruiting of fellow dreamers -- a la John Lennon -- and Rebelles to be his kindred souls in this short journey called Life.