Steering Wheel

Duncan Ford Young

The steering wheel's faded and out of moisture,
But I remember when it was as minted as
Your uncle in those old pictures,
Hair slicked back like molten brown iron,
Smiling tan in a 1973 orange-ribbed turtleneck.
(At the nursing home his arm hangs over the bed
Like a rusted boom.)
I've tried the dashboard treatments,
And they leave the wheel slick and lemony
Like trailside-rotted fruit, bled of juice in summer.
But there are still the fine diamond shaped creases in the leather
Like those in crispy fall leaves before they crumble.

The ways in which my hands have gripped this wheel:
Casually with my left hand
As the right moved boldly to her brushed velvet knee
(Too soon as it turned out)
As I tried to squeeze my mind away from fear
And onto a narrow path free of dangerous thoughts;
As I arched my neck to catch the rear view mirror mouthings
Of songs I wish I wrote;
Or not gripped at all
But pounded with the fat sole of my hand
As anger rose and fell like sea spray
And I made a ledger entry into my book of dark places.


The 2River View, 3_1 (Fall 1998)