“A Driving Student Adjusts the Seat” by Arlene Ang

Arlene Ang


When she enters
she has to adjust the seat to her size.
She thinks this is how it feels
to drive a stolen car.
She leans against the wheel to change
the recline angle and smells
what she’s learned to call
the starvation of damp-palmed girls.
The wipers go off. Like chemistry class,
that boy in the skeleton closet
rubbing vapor from his glasses.
For a whole year, he made room for her
in his homework, his tree house.
She is different now.
She is taller. She uses a sharper blade
to shave between the legs.
When her elbows push
against her breasts, she knows
she’s come too near.
She slides back. And forth.
Then back again. Her movements
are arrhythmic, spurred, ose.
The driving instructor predicts a good day
for doing curves. His hands
around the stress ball open. Close.

from Rattle #26, Winter 2006


Arlene Ang: “I’m particularly fond of my small town just outside Venice, Italy. It’s not really mine in the same way as the left side of the bed is mine or a leg of lamb can be mine, but it’s near enough. When asked, I tell everyone I’m a housewife because it beats having to explain why I write when I should be mopping coffee spills instead. The fact that I’m a driving student on a faux suicide mission keeps the inspiration alive.”

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