American Country Road
Driving Lesson
by Jessica Goodfellow

“Better to hit a brick wall than a pig”
was my father’s advice at my last driving lesson.
There was no livestock in our aseptic cul-de-sac.

I was seventeen already, my father having held on
to my childhood and his money for as long as he could.
“A pig will wreck your truck, maybe even kill you.”

We didn’t own a truck. It wasn’t me he was talking to.
It wasn’t me who’d steered away from endless cornfields,
never looking in the rear view mirror at four squinting sisters,

each lined up at age seventeen to wed a sunburned farmhand.
It wasn’t me who drove away from hay-strewn slaughter pens
and straight into the brick wall of suburbia.

Who taught my fatherless father the art of the either/or fallacy,
the painted yellow line dividing the direction you are headed
from the person who showed you how you could leave?

PHOTO: “American Country Road” by Maksym Maksymowicz, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have tried unsuccessfully in the past to write about my father giving me this advice while teaching me to drive. When I saw your call for submissions, I decided to try again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015) and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014). Recipient of the Chad Walsh Poetry Prize from the Beloit Poetry Journal, she’s had work in Best New Poets, NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and Motionpoems.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Photo taken by my son, who is not yet old enough for me to teach him how to drive.