Semi-Abstract Portrait Of Student Driver

Head down but seeming to bob, an eye

on either side of the road, is the gaze

and the profile of the student driver,

scrutinizing the green turn-signal arrow.

 

Bright blue eelshapes of shame at twice

already flunking writhe from his temples,

cutting across the basically competent

peach field of his forehead, the wise

 

mustard lobe of caution dabbed upon

the side of his bulbous triangular head.

It might strike the viewers as strange

that they can see both his feet, right

 

at the bottom of the picture. Two dark

smears on top of two dark smudges.

Those are black work shoes. Those

are the accelerator and brake. He still

 

sometimes drives with one foot on each

pedal, despite the warnings of the hidden

instructor. But not now. Now, he waits,

still, unmoving, seemingly forever at a red

 

light, trapped in the squiggly brushstrokes

of a left-turn lane, destiny halted due to

potential traffic. But perhaps if they look

away, these nosy spectators, wet clumps

 

of museum panini caught in their smiles,

the signal will change, he will gather his

confidence, and the road will unfold past

the frame, over the walls, into braver worlds.

—John F. Buckley

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About the Author

John F. Buckley’s Sky Sandwiches, Poet’s Guide to America (with Martin Ott), and his chapbook Leading an Aquamarine Shoat by Its Tail were released in fall 2012.