“Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car” by Jeanette Powers



Reflections in the Windows of Your First Car

With my first driver’s license
and the 5-speed shifter
of a gold 1984 Plymouth Turismo
gripped in my hands
I drove out of the suburbs
and into the big city
knowing nowhere to go.

Grinding gears through Raytown
passing the long sewer of Brush Creek
I found myself in Midtown Kansas City
took a left on 39th Street from Main
and flashing lights pulled me
into the bank parking lot

I didn’t know what to do
when justice is demanded
I popped out of the car
and just began to beg
it’s my first day driving
my mom will kill me
I promise it won’t happen again.

Then I catch a glimpse of myself
in the reflection of the window
and see my face covered
in armadillo stamps
from goofing around
with Sam after school,
who we, of course, all called Scooby.

My heart falls out, because I think
no one looking so foolish
will ever get out of anything
could never be taken seriously
and I surrender myself to my fate
look the officer straight in the eye
and just say, I’m sorry.

He pats me on the shoulder
and laughs, be more careful next time
and drives away, I watched that man
choose mercy over justice
two decades later, I still think of him
and the power of an honest apology
every nowhere I go.


About the Author: Jeanette Powers: poet, painter, philosopher, professional party dancer and working class, anarchist, non-binary queer. Here to be radically peaceful, they are a founding member of Kansas City’s annual small press poetry fest, FountainVerse. Powers is also the brawn behind Stubborn Mule Press. They have seven full length poetry books and have been published often online and  print journals. Find more at jeanettepowers.com and @novel_cliche


Image Credit: Ruby T. Lomax “Woman Sitting in Car, Texas” (1937) The Library of Congress

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