Road Map

Marlena Chertock

Revised:

I failed my driving test five times, the instructors every time
grabbing the wheel and saying, “Woah, you could’ve gotten us killed,”
exaggerating to my mom as I tried to throw up in a trash can away from them.

My sister and I were in three car accidents together, the first the scariest.
The SUV skidded into my dad’s red truck, as old as me.
We all worried about my sister’s neck, fragile and unstable,
born too quickly into a world, with defective cartilage, like my hips.

When I get my mom’s old RAV-4, and my license, I’m going to play the music I like
through the music-player plug, not the top 40’s on all the channels.
My grandparents press the volume button for AM classical stations and soft voices talking.

One of my friends loves having sex
in cars, parking them by meters and inserting coins.
She likes the feel of the seats and a man beneath her,
the way she can stretch out and touch the wheel with her feet and backseat with her fingernails.

I have a friend who is terrified of driving. Her parents bought her a gold car
just to motivate her, but she refuses to go outside our high school parking lot.
She grips the steering wheel, inches her foot off the brake, then slams it back down, afraid.

***

I failed my driving test four times, the instructors every time
grabbing the wheel and saying, “Woah, you could’ve gotten us killed,”
overreacting, exaggerating to my mom
as I tried to throw up in a trash can away from them.

My sister and I were in three car accidents together,
the first the scariest. The SUV skidded into my dad’s red truck, as old as me.
We all worried about my sister’s neck, fragile and unstable,
born too quickly into a world, born with defective cartilage, like my hips.

I failed my four driving tests because I was nervous,
over-aware of the cars in the other lane, the ones that could’ve come at me
or I could’ve veered into them, with only a slight shift of the wheel,
a millisecond mistake. The anxiety building within me when I parallel parked.

One of my friends loves having sex
in cars, parking them by meters and inserting coins.
She likes the feel of the seats and a man beneath her,
the way she can stretch out and touch the wheel with her feet and backseat with her fingernails.

When I get my mom’s old RAV-4, and my license, I’m going to play the music I like
through the music-player plug, not the top 40’s on all the channels.
My stepdad listens to NPR or his music,
my grandparents press the volume button for AM, classical stations and soft voices talking.

I have a friend who is terrified of driving. Her parents bought her a gold car
just to motivate her, but she refuses to go outside our high school parking lot.
She grips the steering wheel, inches her foot off the brake,
then slams it back down, afraid.

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