On the Way to the Airport, by Donna Spector | Ted Kooser

Parents and children. Sometimes it seems that’s all there is to life. In this poem Donna Spector gives us a ride that many of us may have taken, hanging on for dear life.

On the Way to the Airport

 

You’re speeding me down the Ventura freeway

in your battered Scout, patched since your angry

crash into the drunken pole that swerved into your road.

We’ve got no seat belts, no top, bald tires,

so I clutch any metal that seems as though it might

be firm, belie its rusted rattling. Under my

August burn I’m fainting white, but I’m trying

to give you what you want: an easy mother.

 

For the last two days you’ve been plugged

into your guitar, earphones on, door closed. I spoiled

our holiday with warnings about your accidental

life, said this time I wouldn’t rescue you, knowing

you’d hate me, knowing I’d make myself sick. We’re

speaking now, the airport is so near, New York closer

than my birthday tomorrow, close as bearded death

whose Porsche just cut us off in the fast lane.

 

When you were three, you asked if God lived

under the street. I said I didn’t know, although

a world opened under my feet walking with you

over strange angels, busy arranging our fate. Soon,

if we make it, I’ll be in the air, where people say God lives,

the line between you and me stretched thinner,

thinner but tight enough still to bind us,

choke us both with love. Your Scout, putty-colored

as L.A. mornings, protests loudly but hangs on.

 

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2013 by Donna Spector, whose most recent book of poems is The Woman Who Married Herself, Evening Street Press, 2010. Poem reprinted from Rattle, Vol. 19, no. 3, by permission of Donna Spector and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.