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
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.
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