Before

Craig Summers crashed

his motorcycle on a stretch

of road behind the high school

and never regained consciousness,

before the sheriff showed slides

of teen accident victims in the fall

because the principal thought

it would prevent the peeling-out

recklessness of carpoolers,

before Winter quarter drivers’ ed —

simulated steering while staring

at a screen in a trailer set up

in a parking lot slick with ice

and cool boys skipping class —

there was

 

a winding road between two

spring-green sides of nowhere,

Dolly Jolening on the radio,

Dad driving my best friend and me

to the softball field in his old Buick

with bad shocks that turned

the backseat into a springboard,

our hair wild from rolled-down 

windows, us bouncing and begging  

him to take the little hills faster, 

faster still, and oh! the thrill, 

the rush, the stomach somersaults

at how our heads almost hit

the roof and only gravity kept

our sodas in their Solo cups.

Before gravity turned on us.

Before danger had a name.

Jennifer Wheelock.jpg

Jennifer Wheelock

Pronouns: She/Her

1 Poem

Before

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Jennifer Wheelock (she/her) is a poet and painter living in Los Angeles. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including Chattahoochee Review, Muse/A Journal, Cortland Review, Los Angeles Review, Post Road, Valparaiso Review, Lake Effect, Flycatcher, Diagram, River Styx, Atlanta Review, and The Inflectionist Review. She works at UCLA.

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