Shhh by Billy Merrell

Shhh

You drive us home that night, stroke my leg like one
strokes an animal to calm him, though I am

so near sleep I feel guilty. You say it’s okay
so I tilt my seat back, watch the lights

passing through the side mirror, stars slowly strung
like beads: quickly passing and aligning. Such

ease. Your hand rounds my knee and then back.
Slow pulse of the road, impossible to read

how fast we’re going. It’s okay, go to sleep but
I want to watch your reflection in the windshield. You are

the one who has to get up early. You are the one
who’s been up all day and should be sleeping.

But you say shhh and I grip your hand,
unable to see the road and no need to.

by Billy Merrell, from talking in the dark

Billy on Facebook

Editor’s Note: Internal slant rhyme, enjambed lines, and repetition tether this poem to its emotional narrative. This is a perfect example of how free verse can be just as delicately and beautifully constructed as any sonnet.

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