The Driver of the Car Is Unconscious
Driver, please. Let's slow things down. I can't endure the speed you favor, here where the air's electric hands keep charging everything, a blur of matter fogs the window and my mind to rub it. Don't look now, but the vast majority of chimpanzees on the road's soft shoulder can't determine: Which fascinates more, the thing per se or the decoration on its leaking package? How like us, they-- (The hand mistook me that arranged my being bound here, buckled. I have been mistaken, ripped from a wave of in-flight radio: wakened brutally is brutally awakened, plucked from the grip of "asleep on the slope of an open poppy." One has meant this torture for another, clearly. Do we welt the same, make similar whimper? Did he take my name? I'll take another.) it is the decoration. By which I mean, we have a lot between us. You're European, and I have been to Venice where the waters pave and they can't play tennis. Fair gondolier, it is my pleasure to confess: nor will you ever catch me in athletic dress, hunched waiting at the net for a ball knocked fast in my direction, hot with fervor to knock it back to the opposing player. It just won't do. Driver, please. I have shared with you. I have become a person. That's supposed to make it hard to hurt me. The future rises, bellows, wrinkles. I can't keep living in a cramped sedan, I won't keep living in a cramped sedan-- though you hold the road, I'll give you that. There are instances of smoke and mirror, instances of shouting fire. Though you hold the road, I'll give you that, there are instances of "sticking to it" that I can't admire, and ours isn't an adhesion I ever expect to look back on wistfully. But that's for time to decide, not me. "Just around the corner, there's a rainbow in the sky."-- Haven't you ever just had to believe it? Look, if it's a cup of coffee you're after, I bet there's someplace brilliant up ahead. I bet there's someplace right around the bend. Ash in the eye and the nose and the mouth, shit in the pants and the mouth and the hand. Hound on the back of the hand and the lap, slap on the face of the hound and the ass. Ash in the eye and the nose and the mouth, mouth on the nose on the face in the pants. Hound on the back of the hand in the lap, slap on the face of the hound in the ass. Ash in the eye and the nose and the mouth and the mouth won't stop, it comforts itself, it comforts me. Funny I keep on looking out the window, identifying even as you do this. The orchids cry that yesterday were pollen ground in the fuzz of dead-drunk bees. I will not submit to being ferried that way. Driver, please. Where to now, Tierra del Fuego? There is no travel but the travel that concludes in shrieking with abandon, is there? --No. What you need is to remember what it felt like beforehand, that emptiness. Call up pictures, melodies, etc., but part of you will resist that assistance, divide from it. Drag the edge of that memory-- yes, it's more like forgetting--across that divide, until something like a rabbit-hole opens inside you. Vanish into the hole. Vanish, it is your only opportunity. It will stun you for another minute, but when the stunning passes, you will again be nowhere, nothing, and even more at peace with it.
From Twenty-Seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit by Timothy Donnelly. Copyright © 2003 by Timothy Donnelly. Reprinted by permission of Grove/Atlantic Press. All rights reserved.
Donnelly's work has been widely praised. Jorie Graham has remarked that his poetry is "musically brilliant and articulate"
Date Published: 2003-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/driver-car-unconscious