Pavement a dull sheen
from an early evening shower,
I’ve got the radio turned up—
singing harmony on Good Vibrations,
when a car pulls out and stops
broadside in my lane.
I stomp the brake, jerk the wheel—
My Chevy Biscayne hydroplanes,
spinning as if on an axis,
a miniature planet.
Twisting the wheel back, I continue
in a straight line, bracing myself—
ready to crash into the man staring at me
like he’s just seen a marvelous circus trick.
In the last thousandth of a second,
he gives it gas, and moving out of the way
in the flash of a matador’s cape,
the road opens miraculously,
a river of painted stripes,
while dashboard lights glow
low as votive candles,
and the engine hums like a choir.
I come up slow on a red light,
and no longer know my hands
trembling drunk on adrenaline.
It all floods back, the surge
waiting for impact,
crush of metal, splintering glass—
once again, I am living
the illusion of being safe,
while this planet whirls through space,
me holding tight to the wheel,
steering as if convinced
I have control of my life.
This poem first appeared in The MacGuffin.
Used here with the author’s permission.