The football coach taught Driver’s Ed. He would hear a siren pass and say:
There goes another one. He meant me. I mowed down the rubber cones
as if they marched at me, an orange army invading from an orange planet.
My head snapped with every curb I hit, a speed bag for the fist I never saw.
I failed Driver’s Ed, F like father, F like Frank, my father’s name. My father
now would have to teach me how to drive. He said: I’d like to mount a cannon
on the hood of my car, swivel it around, and blast all the bad drivers off the road.
He meant me. So I learned to drive, one eye on the quaking of his chin, the cords
in his neck, waiting for him to shred my learner’s permit so it fluttered in my face.
A taxi dropped him off one morning. You have to drive me back to the city,
he said. I lost my car. At the age of five or so, I lost my turtle under the bed.
My father found the creature, crawling on his fingertips, still trying to escape.
JFK was president in 1962, but my father was the finder of lost turtles.
I tucked my learner’s permit in my shirt pocket and drove him to the city.
I read the stubble on his chin. My father, who silenced the room whenever he
spoke, said nothing, years before the AA meeting where he stood up and said:
Hello, my name is Frank. We drove around the same block three times before
I said: There it is. Someone tore the cannon off the hood. That’s why we missed it.