Reverse Drive

Miranda Beeson • Poetry

          after Nate Marshall

Your blue VW reverses from a tree it hits in Mattituck. You are 25. You come back to life, back up east on the stormy north road to the Shelter Island ferry that churns a reverse spume to the other side, back up the last hill on the island to our house, where the stairs lead back down from your room to the driveway where your two-seat Karmann Ghia is parked, first car, (first girl), first neatly rolled joint tucked into the tiny glove compartment next to the cassette player jamming B.B. King’s Lucille, while an LP is spinning music out the window of the house, (me, your sister, Beatles backward), reverse down the drive in our parents’ not yet battered-by-years Country Squire station wagon to the DMV where you ace your test because you pass it before you take it, leaving your bike down by the bay, where you row the dinghy back out to the daysailer you sail to Connecticut to pick me up, where I am dancing a dancer’s reversed life in front of mirrors the summer of my 16th year, our English Bulldog slobbers his way back to us, we are learning to sail on our little red twelve footer, I am crew not captain because I am your little sister following your blond nod through tall snow banks on Riverside Drive NYC to the # 5 bus that drinks exhaust down to 79th, dropping you off, me cross-towning, but don’t have to as I am already in class, we unlearn everything from 12 to K, dreaming of life without homework, our uniforms becoming looser then smaller, our book bags lighter and lighter, our spoons in our grabby hands at the red kitchen table, the chrome high chair, the stove with four legs, two naked babies in a steel wash tub in the tumbling green yard of the farm house (that will become a farm) on the island where our mother is wearing blue overalls, looking up at us from a head of lettuce she is about to pick from her garden, just sprouted, a seed in the ground, a packet in her hand in the hardware store with a drawing of a lettuce under the word Burpee, a mid-winter wish in her mind for next spring while she watches us sleep, hopes she can have children, meets our father, wonders about love.

Emily Gilbert