Driver’s Education

All the Sundays in February
I practiced parallel parking between
two dumpsters in a vacant industrial park.
“Cut right,” my father would say, “Now left.”
The Dodge Dart veered this way,
then that. In the rearview mirror,
the metal bins loomed large,
then fell away. The heater hummed;
the air moist, stale; his cigarette butts
stubbed out in the ashtray.

Over and over I backed up,
then swung forward,
the sole movements in an abandoned
city of factories: low boxes set against a winter sky,
where only the time clocks ticked through the weekend
as I worked to get it right, get it just right.

Now, in the few stalled moments
between sleep and wake,
when the dead and living meet as equals,
he and I take the car out again.
We follow a curved road lined with blurry buildings
and half-remembered landmarks.
He points through the fogged windshield.
“Around this bend,” he says, “Now this”
until the familiar houses
rise into view and I can slow,
pull to the curb,
drop him off at our corner.

Published in Adobe Walls

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash