police car
My First Driving Lesson Was Almost My Last
by Carol A. Stephen

Sixteen, and legal, my dad agreed to teach me
Sunday morning early. My brother tagged along.
Safe enough, that large empty parking lot, plenty of
room for error.

I slid beneath the wheel of the Ford wagon, knees
not yet quivering, too new to know or fear horsepower.
Too new to scan the lot for lurking hazards, yet in the shade
a single parked car I didn’t see.

Give ‘er some gas, my father said. And I did.
To the floor. Never heard his voice crack before,
’til he hollered out brake— BRAKE!!! BRAKE!!!
On the third brake, I hit the gas again.

As we accelerated across the lot, one yellow car
loomed large beyond the windshield. Dad’s foot
came down heavy as an anchor as it found the right pedal.
We stopped, an inch shy of the yellow car, clearly marked POLICE.

IMAGE: Police car, circa late-1950s, Toronto, Ontario (Canada).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There’d be one more lesson from my dad, on the freeway, where I’d cross three lanes of traffic getting on, and was ordered off at the next possible opportunity. My dad and brother got out of the car and walked around for awhile. After that, I took lessons through the Metro Toronto Police Pro Drivers program. The instructor didn’t need to step on any feet. He had his own set of pedals. But by then, I’d lost my lead foot.

Carol A. StephenENHANCED

Carol A. Stephen 
is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at thelightekphrastic.com and in videos at treereadingseries.ca/readers/carol-stephen. Twice shortlisted,  in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow JacketsArchitectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a new collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, titled Breathing Mutable Air(2015). ). A second collaborative chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Slant of Light, will be forthcoming in Spring, 2016. Visit her at quillfyre.wordpress.com.