“C’mon” – he jerks his head
and I fall in behind him,
following his steps
down beside the barn
to the rusted out yellow car.

He is determined
I need to drive a stick.
Full of old man confidence
and stubborn boy iron,
he means to be the one to do it.
I know why – I know the debt
he is atoning but I am not
inclined to be the trade.

He will be the first
of how many is it?
They all speak the same –
offer the same words ‐
Pay attention – you will feel it
listen – feel – know
You feel that?

No, always no
And I never do.

I somehow never learn
to recognize the change
in movement,
the giving away
and failure
to grip on – to know when
to brace and change gears.

I am always on the gas
and willing everything forward.

We spend weeks in that
picked over cornfield.
He yells, he cajoles,
he smacks my leg
and hollers, “now”
and I keep on missing the signs.
and that rusty yellow car keeps
rutting itself over uneven mounds of sod.