Eileen Murphy

Down to Zero

            After Joan Armatrading, Perf. "Down to Zero." (1976).

in the air I see my breath.
Lost my car
in a parking garage,
ground floor booth
with (bi)pole(r) arm,
seven seas of cars,
seven floors of hell.
Once in a manic haze
I climbed to the open-air roof
& sang to the sky
where snow now covers the cars.

It’s a gray Toyota Camry
& with this depression
came the dread—
of driving.
Driving with the sun
in my eyes. Driving at
night. Driving
in a blizzard.
Driving in no traffic
on a fine day.

I don’t give in entirely
to my phobia.
I drove downtown
to the Chicago Loop
& parked my car here
though I don’t have
an electronic squeal
to guide me
into its arms.

Trembling now,
tired, thirsty, toes numb:
I check license plates
level after level.

It starts to get dark.
Trudging through the slush
in down coat & rubber boots,
Evil Me goes,
You ought to kill yourself.
I tell her again,
Shut up.
I will find my car.

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