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drive safely drive safely, 2020

pastel on colored paper

9 x 12 in

drive safely


Dear boy sitting in the passenger seat of the Toyota RAV4,


I’m sorry for snooping on your conversation,

But as you know, there was an accident on 60 west

And as we crawled through the Badlands towards Moreno Valley

I couldn’t help but watch you and your dad talk in my rearview mirror.


It looked like you two were returning from a weekend trip

(Perhaps from camping at Joshua tree or vacationing in Palm Springs)

And I hope that despite the traffic,

You enjoyed your car ride back.


before you know it,

you will no longer be able to lean against the window glass,

And nap as the setting sun warms your face.


After a long day of an even longer month

you’ll have to drive yourself,

blasting the car radio

so to not fall asleep on the way home.


Hold on to that wonder I see in your eyes,

watching the dancing shadows

as the road weaves and dips through the dusty hills.


I don’t pretend to have the answers for the problems you will face

but that wonder will get you far, give you just enough

to get through the day, when you wake up

to a world that no longer seems to have a place for you


And when the day comes that not even

the powdery pinks and blues which coat

the San Bernardino mountains at nightfall

can bring you joy,


remember from dad

all the wisdom you received while pretending not to care

all the love that bathed you without ever being words

all the ways he equipped you for the precarious path ahead.


remember also,

how dad taught you to drive with purpose and diligence

looking mostly towards the open highway

but checking your side and rearview mirrors often,


for you do not know about those around you

how long they have been driving

Or how far left they have to drive

in order to get home.


the fight in you is the heart in you,

and older boy