Driving Lesson

by Kerry Trautman

Our friends sold us the car, but
even shampooed seats and floormats
haven’t rinsed away the smell
of their grief
and of their dog, long dead.

My teenage son now
in the passenger seat.
Out my driver-side window
a bald eagle’s head and tail
electrify white against blue sky.
Look, an eagle, I say

otherwise quiet. I don’t lecture
about driving lessons—
how he can’t hide below roofs forever.

The dog used to droop his jowls
out the window, slobber trailing and
streaking the sky-blue paint.

A small bird pecks and swoops
at the eagle’s dark back.
Why does it dare?

No one should want to hurl themselves
into an object in motion,
to propel oneself at 70mph
over unending asphalt.

Every time I slip into this car
I smell the dog I didn’t even like
and remember stroking its bristly hide.
It didn’t know its last car ride
was its last.

Ahead, paired black streaks
on pavement S themselves toward
the right-side ditch.

What makes a dog ever-willing
to thrust his whole head
out moving car windows? To inhale
wind enough to hinder breath?

No one wants to close a door and
walk away, knowing it will never
open again. Except when they do.

I don’t know if my son turned
to watch the eagle, and if so
if he was rooting for the little bird,
or afraid for it.

Comments are closed.