I miss the rev of the minivan.
The time I turned too sharp off Harlem and dug
its battered side into a white van.
The tobacco glued to the man’s teeth as he yelled
and then realized that a minivan could do no harm
to his white van.
I miss pleading to my mother for the keys or slipping them
into my pocket, depending on the furrow of her brow.
And how I would drive the car until the red arrow just graced E
and then vacate for a week until the tank magically filled itself.
Driving at night is mostly like soaring,
like a pair of ice skates and the whole town,
your whole world, is frozen over. I’m always finding excuses
to run errands in the moon’s embrace, to slip
down the driveway into brake lights and exhaust pipes.
I know neon Jewel Osco like I know my own knuckles.
The checkout lady, a cool breeze as she makes up
a family for me and wonders why they let me go out every night,
for dish soap, tampons, a thank you card,
wonders why shopping has become my good-night kiss.
Sometimes I will take Harlem Ave. so far
that cross streets become strangers and I wonder if I say
hello enough times the world won’t feel so much
like a vengeful tongue.
I do not drive in Boston,
I take the train, the slow chug of the city’s arteries.
I step onto Comm Ave. after a car passes,
jacket blown open wide.
I remember the thrill of a sterling wheel
and a half an hour in which no one will call your name.
I daydream about Thanksgiving break
when I can shiver in the front seat,
puff clouds of smoke with the car as it awakes,
used to slumbering in its old age.
I will take the car down Harlem Ave.,
past Roosevelt Rd. where all the cross streets
turn to numbers and I will count on my fingers
the hours until I leave.
Copyright © Maggie Farren. This poem originally appeared in Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School (Penguin, 2022). Used with permission of the author.