Kate Deimling: “Counting the Miles”




Leaving the hospital, we carefully thread
the belt through the car seat slots
with our son’s small, cushioned head
looking backwards to the rear-view void.

Since he sees at most a few feet,
it doesn’t much matter which way he’s aimed.
Yet it’s troubling up here in the front seat
to perceive in the mirror just a plastic shell.

Soft, bright blankets drape his fresh skin,
and, as the engine comes to life, our new car
measures miles in the single digits as we begin
the trip home, merging into the flow. As we cross

the bridge, glancing at the pointed waves below,
the metal grid rattles and slides under our wheels.
How many miles will we cover, watching him grow—
when this number climbs to a hundred thousand

or more, will the rusted frame of this van
deliver him to some new home, his head
almost brushing the ceiling, a man
moving into a future we hardly conceive?


Kate Deimling is a poet and translator. Her poems appear in recent issues of Grey Sparrow Journal, Wrongdoing Magazine, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Shot Glass Journal, and Janus Literary, and she is a poetry reader for Bracken. She has also translated seven books from French on topics ranging from Renaissance art to the wine industry.

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