Teaching My Son to Drive

The Wareham Cemetery seems the safest place,
a miniature town of children’s blocks,
a place so harmless
the baby rabbit squatting in the drive
doesn’t know enough
to move. We’re alone.
The only policemen on duty are trees
holding over us the shelter of their quiet.
I climb out. My son
sets our phone book on my seat,
gets in my place, sits down, releases
the brake, shifts into first, lets out
the clutch. The car jerks and stammers,
fighting off a stroke, totters forward,
and we’re creaking like a toy train up its track
in this toy world, we’re a joke.
Slow is comic when it’s slow enough.
We crawl around the loop
past the little buildings without doors,
my son peering over the wheel,
his face grim,
determined not to stall, pretending
to steer the enormous thing
that’s steering him.

:: Jonathan Holden, The Sublime (1996)

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