Driver’s Ed Test

—after Joan Kwon Glass

I am closer to seventeen than most of my peers
when I take my driver’s test.

My mother in the backseat,
the instructor evaluating beside me.

When he tells me to merge,
I do not.

When he repeats himself,
I tell him, I will when it is safe.

When he checks the mirrors finally,
he gasps at the row of cars in or near my blind spot

and says “Wow, good call.”
My knuckles as white as the divider lines,

my intestines tied in the knots of memory.
When the instructor asks,

“What do you do if someone is going to hit you head on?”
the sharp collision of oxygen is sucked out of the car.

Behind me, my mother gently reminds me,
I need to answer this question.

I want to tell him,
that the air bags didn’t go off.

The seatbelt didn’t latch,
and they peeled my best friend’s face

off her steering wheel.
I tell him through glass teeth,

“Try to avoid it,”
and I pass my test.