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 —
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 (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.