They Say You Shouldn’t Learn to Drive in the Cemetery
by Matthew Laverty
I drove for the first time in the cemetery
where nimble concrete bent precariously
while interwoven lawn
seemed to be a bland imposter.
As a child
I swung from the low branches
and hoped for small things with quiet eyes,
played in a park by my uncle’s ashes
and grandparents that lay together.
Drove in disillusioned circles at sixteen
by remains of the 19th century
and woods with dirt paths that lead to heaven:
passed down by generation,
a party spot, a place where you go
with your first girlfriend
and learn the way we all do.
Smokes and packs of smokes got me lifts
to wherever I liked.
A park, a mall,
to a girlfriend after a while
who drove and drove. Seven years later now
she lives right by, can’t forget the stuff she likes,
car-rides and coast-line still
subtle Rorschach inklings.
Sparked up on lunch-break of driver’s ed
one modest New England Summer
and by the next I had a permit,
and that summer in that cemetery
with the same faded grass
that seemed more colorful
festooned by the moon’s glow,
young skin on thin blanket,
we lay and smiled.
Went off to college without her
and wondered eighty-two credits later why
I watched her leave, watched that permit expire.
The second one seemed to leave me just as fast
as another couple girls
I dated after did,
and the same city I live in today
is stranded under similar clouds
that come and go
as the wind tells them to.
PHOTO: “Cemetery angel” by zwiegackesser, used by permission.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a rather strange case when it comes to driving. I went through all of the pre-requirements of getting a license like going to drivers education and getting a permit, but I never went through with actually getting a license. So the creative process was really an eye opening one for me as it still doesn’t make sense why I don’t have one years later. I actually had been working on this for a few hours a week after I saw the prompt, and I had lot more material than I used but I wanted to keep it shorter and more concise.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matthew Laverty is an aspiring writer from the suburbs of Boston. He is an alumnus of The University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he earned his B.L.A. degree with dual concentrations in English (Writing) and History. He has studied creative writing under poet Maggie Dietz and critically acclaimed author Andre Dubus III. Laverty’s poetry has been featured three times in the annual literary magazine of the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, The Offering, and is forthcoming in the multi-volume series Where the Mind Dwells (Eber & Wein).
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken around the time I was learning to drive (I was about 17).