On Guadalupe Bridge

Shauna Osborn

Seven thin concrete slabs with the Virgin’s visage

guard the east exit & I need no review mirror

to tell me the Virgin has turned her back to us.

Joe, the homeless vet that rides my bus sometimes,

balls up his dirt crusted fist & pounds on the hood

of my Olds as he crosses between idling cars. White

smoke blooms from the cracks between body & the hood.

“Your car’s too goddamned loud,” he shouts towards my

cracked windshield, then spits on the concrete near my front tire.

I nod & yell back “What’d you say? Can’t hear you over the engine.”

He pushes his face close to the slit in my front window



& show him the empty pack riding shotgun. He snarls & shakes

his head, starts knocking on the car next to mine.

The heat is intense & I’ve stripped every layer of clothes I can

without getting arrested. The car has no air conditioner, the side

windows’ glass has broken off the busted tracks so they refuse

to roll up or down on command. It shouldn’t be legal to keep us

in traffic so long during desert summers. Kendric says people

die this way. Marco, the paletas pushcart guy weaves his way along

the median, selling cold sweets, water, & large bags of chicharrones

to the victims of the evening commute, our tires stuck like they’ve melted

permanent to the pavement, only those on foot getting ahead on Guadalupe Bridge.

My jaw’s locked & I grind my teeth, drum my thumbs against the

sticky driving wheel. Once again I wish my stereo still was still mine

even though I maxed the speakers out trying to hear music over

the loud clacking of the engine. Today Carlos is sitting nearby in his

low riding Lincoln, playing Tejano to drown out his boys fighting in

the back. I can barely hear more than the loud bursts of bass but I watch

teenage fists fly back and forth as Carlos shakes his head, rolls up the window,

speaks & motions with his own fist in the review mirror. Everyone stuck in

Tejano hell or maybe just this particular traffic purgatory, their hearts tired

of pounding, tongues swollen all thirsty & hot, spending the rest of eternity

on the overpass of Guadalupe Bridge.

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