Driver's License

The testing supervisor told me

He wasn’t sure he should give me a license

But that I had technically passed.

What does that mean?

He didn’t trust me and neither did my mother

The both of them said

I didn’t pay enough attention to my surroundings.


My mother has been telling me for years

To stop running into people,

To watch their faces for some nuance

I couldn’t detect from a micrometer away

Be aware, she says, but I don’t get it.

I don’t get it until I am turning out of the parking lot

And there is a woman parked too close to the curb,

And I can’t quite avoid the side of her

Cherry-red sedan and




The car doesn’t even have a license plate yet,

What am I supposed to do,

She turns the other way,

Is it a hit and run

If I hit and she runs?


And I come to understand on the way home,

What it feels like to need to check over your shoulder




I can see you, SUV in my blind spot!

Scan every intersection with microscopic precision,

I can feel you, nitrogen molecules!

Swimming and spinning as a car speeds past me,

I can see the way the air swirls around your windshield.


It is I and I am lonely,

In this giant metal monster

I hold my own life in my hands

And it is thin and cold,

Like mountain air,

And like air I can feel some of it diffusing

Into the hands of my fellow drivers.

I do not trust them and yet I must.


What a strange community we make,

People who have seen the world

Driven on the other side of the road,

And people who have never

Been past Tustin Avenue.

People older than the books on my bookshelves

And bright-eyed young people like myself.

Old souls and modern muses,

Making eye contact to let a girl turn left.

Who would’ve thought

Two faces,

Two worlds could meet for a brief second

On the corner of Tustin and First. 

This poem is about: 
My community
Our world


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