Tag Archives: cars

Intersection

A couple stands at the intersection holding hands loosely, their fingers intertwined but relaxed, indicative of the stage of their relationship when passion is not their priority but a physical connection is. The girl, who can’t be older than 17, wears a knee-length pleated floral skirt above laced-up leather boots under which her feet are surely sweating in the dry July heat; the boy, who looks even younger with his apparent inability to grow facial hair, holds her hand calmly while fidgeting in his shorts pocket with the other, twisting the cloth back and forth below his fingers. His shirt has a silhouette of mountains on the front of it and a Colorado flag as a backdrop, indicating his tourist status to this mountain town — likely a souvenir from the t-shirt shop down the street. The couple stands at the front of the line watching the cars pass back and forth in front of them, waiting only for the little white neon man on the light pole fifty feet away to tell them it’s safe to walk. She taps her toes twice and draws a circle with the toe of her boot on the unresistant sidewalk; he looks at her and lets go of her hand. They both stand with their hands on their hips waiting to cross.

A bicyclist swerves up next to them, jutting his wheel out into the intersection mere inches from traffic turning right on the adjacent street. He wears a helmet and sunglasses and doesn’t look either direction; he stares only straight ahead, waiting also for the traffic light to become red so he can cross safely. The couple gives him a side-eyed glance as he leans on one foot and one pedal entirely too close to them for comfort. Music blares from his headphones, the cord attached to which hangs dangerously close to his handlebars; first only a faint drumbeat can be heard through the headphones from a few inches’ distance, but when the song picks up it can clearly be identified as “Livin’ On a Prayer.” The girl hears the beat and begins unconsciously nodding her head to it; her boyfriend looks over at her and smiles; she smiles back sheepishly. The music seems to propel the bicyclist, and he inches forward slightly into the intersection but the white neon man doesn’t change for the biker’s will. A row of cars farther down the next block impedes everyone’s views from the oncoming traffic, and the biker is impatient for the light to change. He, too, must wait.

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Ode to Ten Digits

Your fingers curl, and your grip tightens ’round
the steering wheel as I sit in the back of the car
watching you drive. Through the windshield, the view
opens up to a sprawling horizon atop frozen ground,
but my eyes stay on your hands, spread equally far
apart, grasping the helm at positions ten and two.

The radio plays a crooner’s melody; your fingers drum
an accompanying rhythm upon the wheel
one at a time, bah-rump, bah-rump, a double-beat
moving all your fingers synchronously. Now one thumb
rests loosely below the bar and I watch your fingers feel
around the polyurethane molding from the back seat.

You round a curve and the car swings right; your
left hand casually rounds the wheel, making the move
to reposition the vehicle; the fingers glide up and back down,
coming to rest again at the bottom where they were before.
You flex your hands on the wheel and let them fall; you’ve
driven this road hundreds of times, on autopilot back to town.

An ache; a shift. You switch hands, left becoming pilot
and right resting gently on your thigh, fingers running parallel
to the lines that cascade down your corduroy pants.
The tendons under your skin course with violet
blood, flowing against flesh and unfurling the swell
of sheer power emanating from the grip of your hands.

My gaze is transfixed; my eyes can’t look away
from your hands’ every move as you navigate the course.
Though my mind meanders, bewitched are my eyes
by your steady hold over the chassis’ gentle sway.
A sudden flash crosses my mind, imagining the force
of that grip anywhere else, what power within lies.

Like a fist tightened around a barbell, ready
to lift the deadweight, sending a surge of might
from shoulder to fingertip, your able hand
clenches the steering wheel now, arm steady
and bold in perfect position; knuckles white
in your clutch against skin lightly tanned.

Yet the force contained within your grip is blanketed by
a softness: heightened by the ability to wreak havoc
by a mighty pull or suffocating grasp, but eased
by your empathetic caress of the wheel — satisfied
your hands will steer us gently through the traffic,
your gentle touch still keen for a squeeze.

Your hands have danced tangos in combat boots,
flown trapeze in bulletproof vests; performing a show
for my unintended benefit, here, watching from the rear.
And as you drive on, your fingers resting with poise resolute,
oblivious to the watchful eyes of your passenger in tow,
who is content to admire your hands from back here.

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