Road Trip

The mountains loom over the surrounding scenery
Of large lakes and vast grasslands
The white streaks down the crevices of the mountains
Through the dense, dark green trees
Painting a picturesque scene
Images flash through the panels of glass,
And powerlines oscillate up and down like ocean waves
The soothing hum of the car engine,
The gentle rumble of the tires, on the long, asphalt road
All provide an ambience to the ruckus inside.

Inside the car, in our own isolated space
The energy of togetherness is trapped
My sister, brother and I in the back
Playing, laughing, munching on snacks
Then our parents play their favourite CD
And all of us burst into song
Swaying our heads like pendulums
But in this joyous, family moment
A dark, nagging thought comes:
When will it all come to an end?

My sister is leaving in a month
To pursue future aspirations
And in four years, I will also be taking off
So the realization struck me:
This is the last road trip we will have
a complete family all together
But I don’t feel sadness, instead gratitude
I don’t feel regret, instead anticipation
So I take a look through the car window
And soak up the scenic moment

This poem won the Poetry Prompt Prize for March 2023. It is inspired by Britta Badour's prompt "Answering Machine".

Poetry Editor Brandon Wint writes about "Road Trip" by Ray Zhang: "Road Trip" is a quality, compelling poem for the way that it uses nostalgia as a way to prompt insight about coming of age and moving toward adulthood. The piece is a wonderful reflection on the way familial love can hold strong over time, even as people change.

Head shot of a young man

Ray Zhang

Grade: 9 / Sec. III
St. George's School
Vancouver, BC

“In my recording, I listened to the sound of nostalgia in my voice while recounting my past road trip. Now that my sister is away at school, while she was not always that loud, I always feel like something is missing at home. Therefore, I wrote this poem to reflect on the last road trip we had as a full family.”

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