Who else would have thought of it:
teaching yourself to drive
by sitting at the piano,
playing with (look!) no hands?
That’s how I found you one day,
both feet on the pedals,
an umbrella clutched by your side,
as you practised changing gear.
In the days before simulators,
what else were you to do?
I needn’t have scoffed, I suppose:
you passed your test first time,
even though years of driving
never quite smoothed out
those kangaroo starts
and tooth-on-edge, grinding gears.
You carried on into your eighties,
pooh-poohing my spoil-sport advice
about buses and taxis being cheaper
(and less costly to life and limb).
Nothing could dent your resolve.
Wing mirrors in the end
became consumable items
like the tins of touch-up paint.
Even writing your car off once,
not stopping when you should,
didn’t prompt you to give up,
whatever that policeman said.
Those white-knuckle rides to the station!
I’d rather have walked through the rain
with a ton of luggage in tow
than have taken those lifts with you.
“Remind me again,” you said,
as we came to a busy junction,
“what happens at roundabouts.”
No arguing, you were grounded after that.
You still had the piano, though,
tuned up, ready to go,
whenever you fancied a spin,
or a trip down memory lane.
You read music better than roads
and never lost your touch,
the notes still at your fingertips,
long after you’d failed to grasp words.
Stephen Claughton’s poems have appeared widely in magazines, both in print and on line, most recently in Ink Sweat & Tears, London Grip and Poetry Salzburg Review. Another is forthcoming in The High Window.