The Fourth River

Tributaries: “Learning to Drive”

By on December 7, 2016


Sunday afternoons after church, after miles of my pleading, my dad pulled off blacktop,
onto the gravel lane leading home.
My Dad and I, at the mouth of the hollow, played Chinese fire drill, Mother relegated
already to the backseat.
My dad confessed to be a hillbilly only in one way—he kept more cars than we could
old Cadillacs you could float down river, a Chevy Celebrity the color and size of an army
and my favorite, a brown 79 Thunderbird that once plowed through four feet of snow in a
I remember the Ford’s slick, hard plastic steering wheel, the shining metal of the gear
handle on the column.
Pulled down to Drive, the V8 surged forward before my foot touched the gas. Mother
complained not to be jerky.
Dad told her to hush, waved me to go on. But I already was.
I swerved around pot holes, paused at the top of the hill for Dad to count his cows in the
hugged the bank to let a neighbor pass on the single, dead-end lane, inching us closer
to our driveway,
adding, every Sunday, another half mile to the odometer that would finally take me
anywhere but back home.

Denton Loving is the author of the poetry collection Crimes Against Birds (Main Street Rag, 2015) and editor of Seeking Its Own Level, an anthology of writings about water (MotesBooks, 2014). Follow him on twitter @DentonLoving.