“In Which I Get Out of a Speeding Ticket” by Carol Potter

Carol Potter


It was hard to find the courthouse tucked as it was down
behind the orchard. Porches and pleasant porticoes

as if someone were living there.
Or had. Not far from us, the lake shining and slapping

on shore. Boats going past. There were folding chairs
set out for the defendants and their families.

I’d been caught coming across the bridge; my girlfriend
caressing my hair and both of us laughing at the time.

There were dings in the car from grandfather
back when I was a child and this was his car.

Half-blind, me in the back seat, Pop-pop driving,
cracking into things. I scrambled into the front

hoping to stomp on the brake, but my legs
were too short to be of use. It’s like any other thing

kids do in the company of grown-ups. That moment
when you see it’s not going to be alright.

Somehow we got home okay that day. I was
recently mentioning this to my grown

daughter. How the Lincoln got the dents.
That at the beginning of your life you don’t know

what’s going on, and then, like my grandfather
toward the end, not a clue, but going the other way.

I’d been speeding on the bridge, yes. But not
much. In court, I pleaded my innocence.

This was after the men in orange suits
arrived at the building and lined up along

the file cabinets. A young woman with a
child in her arms got up to greet her manacled

boyfriend. He took his baby daughter, held her
in the circle of the cuffs. Some cooing

and nuzzling like nothing had gone wrong
and was going to go on going wrong.

Teenagers really. Still skinny. Complexions
blotchy. The chuckling sound the baby made

when Dad shifted her in his arms.
Little bubble of milk on her lips.

from Rattle #64, Summer 2019


Carol Potter: “I write out of that moment when the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly, the radiant, the dissolute get spotted riding along side by side. The poem is that note. We see you. We hear you. Babies, girlfriends, dream, bridge, lake, cop, orange suits, tickets, children in the back seat of some clunker car, a courtroom, some folding metal chairs.” (web)

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