Learning to Drive at 52 in the Bulova Corporate Headquarters Parking Lot
Gretchen Michelfeld
20
Roads depressed through black-dirt onion fields
Afford me a clench-jawed-high-noon view of
No cars, no trucks, no tractors, and
I make it all the way
To the next town.
Fussing and sweating
He is in the death seat,
Father.
At the diner he takes the keys,
Drives us home and
Promptly falls asleep.
Not forever, but
All afternoon and
Two weeks later
The chaos of e.k.g. flatlines and
Stress-induced ischemia.
10
Midnight silent-screams
Awaken me
(unbreathing in wet sheets)
From the eternal chimera behind the wheel,
Always in the driver’s seat,
Mother.
Laughing with rage
Flooring the gas
To flatten me.
Crunching my bones
Into mottled gray gravel.
17
Sunday-at-dawn parking lot
Affords me a view of
No buses, no bikes, no bullies, just
Onions and athletics and
I make it all the way around the school.
He is in the death seat,
(plump and not-so-pretty, I am child’s play)
My well-formed hero with his
Easy laugh—
Friend of my mother’s who teases her
But fucks me
Twice.
And then we both lose interest
In my learning how to drive.
45
Widowed at dusk.
Flailing, I am
Shaking in the death seat
Of her Texas-plated Porsche—
My grieving M.I.L.
(who has afforded me upright views of
Paris and Pompeii,
the Amalfi Coast and Copenhagen,
St. Petersburg,
gourmet cooking and Chuck Close)
Tells me to trade places.
Turn the ignition key.
Unbreathing pulsation-drenched sheets again.
It always takes years
To recover.
52
I am learning to map genomes,
Compose piano concerti
And read Mandarin.
No. Not quite, but
I am accelerating
To 20 m.p.h.
My foot
(only the right one! never the left!)
On pedals
Connected to my mind which is
Affording me a view of
A crazy-ass-Saturday-morning shark
Circling around
And around and around and around
The little treed barriers and
He is beside me, my
Passenger-seat lover,
(heart and breath)
Reiterating 10 and 2,
Do not look down, but out ahead,
Trust in peripheral vision and
Tilted mirrors.
Perhaps this time the brain will clear the way.
Although faith has thus far
Proved appalling… perhaps
From this timepiece
(will time be kind?)
Perhaps
I will pull away
Out there
Into
No tricycle child,
No squeaking pup,
I’ll flatten no bones,
Level off no dreams,
Lose no dignity,
Just
Learn to drive.
Gretchen M. Michelfeld is an eclectic writer, a sheepish Mets fan, a hopeful feminist, and a proud mom. Her essays and poems have appeared in TalkSpace, The Good Men Project, Real Simple and Open Thought Vortex. A former actress and member of the comedy troupe, Lesbian Pulp-O-Rama!, she is now a playwright and screenwriter. Her feature film As Good As You is available on EPIX, iTunes and Amazon Prime. www.gretchenmmichelfeld.com

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