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LEARNING TO DRIVE by Mary Bast

My mother’s father was a physician, her mother a descendant of early English settlers…

 My father was the rough-cut son of immigrant German stock—my grandmother a short, fat, bossy sort and and my grandfather a tall, skinny, quiet man. I don't know my maternal grandparents' view of this bright, farm-grown young man, because they died in a car crash before I was born.

I can guess they hoped their middle daughter would find a better catch if they moved her away from La Feria, Texas—population 1,594. She went to college in Chicago, as they directed. Once there, however, she schemed to move closer to Texas A & M, where my father  was studying agriculture. She went to three different colleges in as many years and finally—after her third year away—they were married.

Mom saw through Dad’s tough exterior, and would act as go-between, but my father, enforcer of his own rules, scared me when I was growing up. Though he is long dead, in my seventh decade I still see aspects of the timid little girl who didn’t learn to challenge the rules or find her true voice until she was well into her fifties.
The author at her high school graduation

Learning to Drive
When he taught me to drive,
my Lieutenant Colonel Dad
commanded me to learn
on a stick shift. No namby-
pamby automatic ride. We
practiced on country roads
where he trained me to swerve
at will, to maintain control.



This is how he lived his life:
grabbing the wheel. In later years,
hands curled, arthritic claws,
he would not stop driving,
changing course. I never knew
when harsh weather would force
my slide into a lie, fearing
a head-on collision, his sharp nod
the only brake light needed.



I was always missing curves.

I wonder if his ashes press
cinders to dust as they plot,
in Arlington National Cemetery,
a military coup, part of a convoy,
commando spirits planning
to eject hazardous materials
on my wishy-washy life:
a car-jacking, an explosion. 
The author's father


Mary Bast: "I write poetry, found poetry, memoir, and flash fiction. A Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest finalist, my work has appeared in print and online journals, including 100 Word Story, Bacopa Literary Review, Blue Monday Review, Connotation Press, Haunted Waters Press, Pea River Journal’s "Remaking Moby Dick," right hand pointing, shaking like a mountain, Six Minute Magazine, Slow Trains, Survivor’s Review, The Found Poetry Review, The Writing Disorder, and Wicked Alice. When my hands are not on computer keys they’re holding brush to canvas, inspired by North Central Florida’s woodlands, lakes, and prairies. You may read more of my poetry here, visit my memoir blog and my art site. Or connect with me on my Facebook page here. I live in Gainesville, Florida."

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~

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