For My Student About to Take the Written Half
of the Motorcycle License Test for the Third (and Last) Time

Not like the American pilots
bombing Japan in WW II.
Not their precarious take-offs
from the decks of air-craft carriers
pitching forty-five degrees
in thrashing seas.  Flyboys.
That stuff we read about
each week together, alternating
paragraphs, you in the student’s chair.

Instead, a well-thumbed copy of the
motorcyclist’s manual from the DMV.
Look left, lean left, turn left.
This matters.
Your one last chance to pass the test
determines whether you will sit astride
that powerful machine, shanks
hugging the gas tank’s shiny sides,
owning the highways.  Bikerboy.

So study well the booklet’s dense
paragraphs, its enigmatic diagrams.
For they know whether
you’ll earn the right
to claim your piece of roadway,
creating that “cushion of distance,”
hanging back behind the SUV,
holding the center of the lane.
Whether you’ll enter the stream of drivers
aware of one another’s blind spots

Talk about partial vision­--you
with a limited depth-field
and I with the gap between close
and distant the trifocals are meant to fix.
Maybe what we can’t see
is what matters, finally--
what pulls us onward down the road
in the blind faith that someone
is sharing the ride, belly to back,
arms wrapped around us
for the duration of the trip.

Lucia Galloway is the author of Venus and Other Losses (Plain View Press, 2009, forthcoming) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (Finishing Line Press, 2005).  Recent work appears in Gertrude, The Lyric, The MacGuffin, Poemeleon, Poetry Midwest, Prism Review, Thema, Her Mark 2007 and 2009, Redheaded Stepchild, and Verdad.  Her poetry was awarded the Robert Haiduke Prize from the Bread Loaf School of English, honorable-mention in the MacGuffin National Poet Hunt and was recognized with a Pushcart Nomination.  Galloway co-hosts a poetry reading series in Claremont, California.

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