"She says she is counting cars. Motorists who have seen her day after day for the past year imagine she may be contemplating suicide, taking down license plates, or waiting for a perfect time to disrupt the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. She is merely working, she says, on an 'independent marketing survey.' A nearby gas station attendant, who watches her every day, has long since given up wondering."
Long hair blowing like seaweed, she stands on the overpass counting the rush hour traffic below by entering tick marks on a clipboard. She is tall and slender and wears a long brown prairie skirt and yellow rubber rain boots.
I have yet to see her face. She never looks away from the traffic or up from a newspaper stretched in her wide open grasp, and I wonder if she uses the paper to sight the line of cars as they surface to the top of her page.
She is always alone, and with her long hair blowing and her arms outstretched she is like a Nereid on a bridge welcoming her guests back from the sea as they flow home safely beneath her.
She is out again today and as I drive by I catch the tight curve of her long skirt and the turn of her ankle and wonder how it would be to make love to the traffic counter. Would she be as detached as when she counts the traffic, and lie there in a dull torpor while she counts the seconds then the minutes as she waits for me to finish,
or would she be a human engine like the throbbing traffic she surveys, and would she, after I am spent, continue to surge over me as I try to keep pace beneath her while, one after another, I count her convulsions as they ebb and flow.
Ed McCafferty has had recent acceptances by Scribble, Clark Street Review, and Word Fountain, as well as previous poems in Poet Lore, Gargoyle, and Potomac Review among others. He is the author of the chapbook “Audrey and I Stride Forth” published by Argonne House Press, Washington DC (2002). He is also the author of a graduate textbook in chemistry entitled “Introduction to Corrosion Science” published in 2009 by Springer Press of New York. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife and two cats.
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