I drove your car into a telephone pole three days
after my sixteenth birthday when I reached
for a Diet Coke in the inside pocket of the door.

How you had patience for me, Dad.
We expect children to break things, we expect
play dough into carpet, crayon designs on walls,

but I was not a child. You had driven with me
for hours. First, in a parking lot, no cars, no signs,
no lights. Then on Roswell Road, you quiet beside me.

Why are they honking? My knuckles
strangled the steering wheel. Because you’re going
twenty-five in a forty, you laughed.

I imagine how it was on the expressway
to be in the passenger seat beside a new driver,
the other cars leaving the slow of the herd behind.

You never knew when I was alone
with the telephone pole, I had wine coolers
in the trunk from the night before.

Your car smashed. You never knew
I called my boyfriend first, to come get
the wine coolers. I called you to get me.

Your voice over the phone like an anvil.
I thought you would yell. I thought you would cry
for your car, for my stupidity, for having raised

a daughter like me. Instead, you got out of the car
to hug me. In my memory you were running,
to me. I cried. The car, broken in the background

You took me out for ice cream, whatever flavor I wanted,
and we sat together under the fluorescent light,
on parlor chairs like tomorrow would be new.