Sophia DeSchiffart

The press of our Uber driver’s ankle
has sent us to a part of town where
traffic lights sleepily blink green.
Where roses are hung from every
street lamp. And every person outside
actively participates in happiness.
I do too, my head out the window,
hoping for eye contact. Just how
I don’t spend a single night by myself
because I’m scared it will never have
existed. I named her Heaven so I could say
she’s my little Heaven, he’s saying about
his daughter as he merges his car. How
can you hear something like that and not
smile in sympathy? All three of us are
sitting in the back, smiling silly at this
little revelation. He seems so decent I could cry.
I know he has nothing in common with
the old man on the street who called me
a fucking bitch last week. But in the second
before he introduced himself to us, I couldn’t know.

We ask him more about his Heaven.
Her horoscope. Her type of humor.
What she has been up to lately.
She’s always had a thing for acting.
We decided to let her pursue it.
As a parent, you have to at least try.
I am looking out the window,
choked up for no good.
Did you hear that?
He says you have to at least try.
When my best friend’s father died,
you told me it was unfashionable
to claim another’s grief as your own—
apparently, Prophet Muhammad once
said too much grief is obscene.
That is why I almost hated him.
At least try to pull yourself together,
he’s still talking about his daughter.

She’s my best friend, my little angel.
She has this thing she does where
she’ll pause mid-sentence, and
rediscover what she wanted to say.
I think I said, She sounds so special,
and I meant it. Do you see that?
The sky, bruised with deep-set
clouds. Orange. And red. And pink.
If Dad were an Uber driver,
I wonder if he would talk about me.
If he were an Uber driver,
would girls distrust him?
You think I want to be like this?
You think I don’t want to know
the man who drives me home?
The people who feed me?
You, the woman who raised me?

His heavy ankle hums the car to a pause.
We’re in front of my apartment complex.
Well, you girls take care. I’ll tell Heaven
about you three. She’ll be so happy to hear
you asked about her. I don’t know what
this man thinks about when he drives away.
Maybe about the Elmer’s Glue he has to
buy for Heaven’s science project.
The piano chords he’s been practicing
and how Heaven bops her head to them.
And I could imagine every tippy-toed parent
hanging up fairy lights, every tomato-souped child
at a dinner table, and I am thinking about
how the body is love’s witness, how our bodies
are blissful when they’re half ours, and half not,
our arms wrapped through another’s,
your hand placed on me.

So now I am thinking about how you sat, many years ago,
on a grease-stained couch, your ribs straining against
the pressure of your pregnant stomach. I was so young
you didn’t want me to see you like that, so you
softly touched my temple and told me to leave.

Who named a bone a temple?
Who could be that kind?