©2020 by Canvas Literary Journal

Published by Cosmographia Books

Background art “Submerged” by Amelia Ao

Canvas logo by Ali Wrona

The Road to a Safer Future

Khadijah Halliday

Winter 2020

I believe

That the road to a safer future . . .

 

Is not paved with pretentious pronouncements.

 

Neither

is it laid by the passing of new laws—

Nor the skyscraping of highways of "new" leaders

cemented in public pretences.

 

I believe

That we have spent centuries cruising along the sidewalk

to the road that leads to a safer future—

pulverizing innocent pebbles,

capsizing free-thinking flower-pots—

yelling antagonistic apologies for the dirt

 

left behind.

 

I believe

That on the road to a safer future . . .

it is ironic, increasingly so,

that we focus the majority of our energy

on the external commotion of traffic

—the “colors” of the paints that “color” each vehicle—

continuously choosing to disregard the blatant fact we all

innately carry

the exact same fuel.

 

I believe

That the lone pedestrians

trudging along at the edge

of the road to the safer future, are judged by their

poverty

and seldom by the vehicles that we rob from them:

by our reluctance to offer a ride.

 

I believe

That we religiously regard the tracks of white and yellow marks

positioned strategically along the road—

Not recalling, it seems,

to erase the umbilical blueprints from past constructors

and trace into the road

 

Our own.

 

I believe

 

That these

are the century old propensities . . .

that protect the erroneous allegation of the unattainability . . .

 

Of a safer future.

 

Evidently—

It shows that the issue in fact . . .

is not inconsistency but precisely its exact opposite—

Consistency:

A repeated repetition of the exact same

concession along the road.

 

I believe

with utmost conviction,

that the renovation of our routine-sensitive mind-sets

is the only avenue to gaining ground . . .

 

On the road to a safer future.

 

Habitually,

We address the carelessness of the drivers and seldom

the stained windshields from which they look through–

Mind you: on a day to day basis,

generations of mentalities are

pre-moulded and marred in advance

as per fault

of the routine-based confines of the past.

 

The road to a safer future . . .

Pshht.

 

I believe

That we mis-interpret

The signs—

At its sides.

 

For instance;

The ones that read 'Stop'—

we completely crop out of our vision,

because we automatically associate ‘Stop’ with the direction

for permanent delay when all it really is:

is a prompt for a moment of reflection—

so that we can learn from our ways.

 

I believe

That we readily embrace the word, ‘shortcut’

because we refuse to grasp that it’s

just an illusion—non-existent and directly deceiving.

And in the end, when we finally see it for what it really is,

we take no blame

and incriminate an innocent road

for the dismal products of our own poor decision-making.

 

I believe

That the accidents and collisions that we get into

along the road to a safer future . . .f

are too hastily cleaned up—

preventing us from absorbing the implications of the

acts of speeding

and disobedience

and overtaking.

I believe

That the thousands of tragedies occurring at roundabouts

aren’t mere coincidences;

Because it’s at these roundabouts that

we all exit from varying backgrounds and experiences and

situations—

and we've never been sufficiently taught

to exhibit patience and understanding

at such intimate intersections.

 

I believe

That we seldom adhere to the rules of the road

because no one ever sat us down

and imbedded the

magnitude of the fines issued—

 

as a result of rebellion

and deviation.

 

I believe

That we crash into lampposts

and tumble into traffic lights

Because we harbour the innate toddler-like tendency

to topple off course—

even in the presence of light and clear direction.

 

I believe

That the most glaring and underrated sources of lights

are the lampposts located at the very beginning

of the road to a safer future

—in the form of innocence and curiosity and hope.

 

I believe

That these lights are the lights

that we shield our eyes to

because we’ve all been darkened by the tar coating this road

and the introduction of light to darkness now

would be

scary and unfamiliar and . . .

frightening.

 

I believe

That the real reason we fly nuclear obscenities

out through the windows of our vehicles,

is not because we harbor hate for our fellow drivers—

but because we aim to conceal

the insecurity and lack of control we feel

 

over the wheel.

 

I believe

That the real reason we wind our windows down

to patronize passing drivers,

is not because they have persecuted us in any way—

but because we all have this quiet imbedded fear

that by the time, we find the safer future . . .

 

our engines will be empty

and our tanks bare.

 

I believe

That we each grow up promising

to change things when we’re old enough to reach the wheel

and that finally, when we are old enough,

we forget those past dreams.

 

I believe

That the scratches and nicks we receive

taint us more than we can see;

and that no amount of paint can erase them . . .

 

but at least,

we can still believe.

 

I believe

 

That on this road—

on this journey to safety.

we are never going to unanimously agree.

 

I believe . . .

That we will all always drive at different speeds.

 

But I believe . . .

That the ratio

irrespective of individual belief

OR hierarchal seat

OR driving speed

. . . is eternally equivalent . . .

 

to potential

and promise.

 

I believe

That the way we process the tickets we receive mentally

is the key to driving more patiently in the future.

 

I believe

Most of all: that we can't all expect to fit into one lane.

Logically, it’s impossible.

 

But eventually,

all individual lanes will lead to one junction called . . .

 

A safer future.

 

I believe

That the road to a safer future . . .

cannot solely be paved with noble intentions:

 

But also

by the construction of new mindsets

and the skyscraping of high—ways of "new" thinkers.

Khadijah Hallidayis a high school senior from Saint Lucia in the Caribbean—the birth place of Sir Derek Walcott. She is a writer and spoken word artist and was a nominee for the 2017 Saint Lucia Youth Literary Award. Khadijah was awarded Gold Awards in both the 2018 and 2019 Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competitions and she is an alumni of the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop 2019. While her main passion is writing, she plays the guitar and is into photography. Khadijah plans to major in English Literature/Creative Writing at college in 2020.