by Raymond P. Hammond

descending down the lonely dark hill
snow pouring down from the darkness down
in cones cast from the yellow street lights
driving carefully down route sixty-
four in the foot-deep tracks of the car
that came before us as we returned
to the Grand Canyon from getting food
and supplies down in Flagstaff

seated next to me was the woman
with which I was having my second
affair on my first wife our faces
faintly lit by the warm candlelight
glow of the small yellow dashboard bulbs
the only sound for the past hour
has been the grinding of the rubber
against the piling powdery snow

she turns to me out of the dark night
voice quietly shattering the dull
drone and says you have the greatest faith
of anyone I have ever known

I slow the car from crawl to full stop
looking ahead into light and night
both hands on the steering wheel,
shoulders fixed forward, it hits me that
This is a memory from childhood
This is like standing in front of my
great-grandmother’s house on a four-lane
Snow-covered route eleven with my
father — the complete solitude, quiet,
and the cones of yellow lighted snow
we stand together in the middle
of the street that is devoid of cars
we stand facing north no words exchanged
but the sensation of his presence—
the only other human presence
in the universe at that moment—
makes me feel that all will be ok
or at least it will all just be

A pause, then the hum of the engine
returns, replacing my words with air
I slowly release the brake and we
gently and cautiously continue
to roll down the hill into the town
of Tusayan without another word
or the first thought of not making it

Raymond P. Hammond is the editor-in-chief of both The New York Quarterly and NYQ Books. He holds an MA in English Literature from New York University and is the author of Poetic Amusement, a book of literary criticism. He lives in Beacon, NY with his wife, the poet Amanda J. Bradley, and their dog Hank.