Susana H. Case

I lied, promised I would learn to drive
stick, which you couldn’t do—otherwise,
you wouldn’t fly to Oslo with me. When the
green VW Bug stalled, then stalled again
at the airport car rental lot with the
likes of me at the stick, I cajoled you,
shamelessly, into trying to drive it, then
lied and promised I would love you
forever. I got away with all of it because
lying was habit, the sex was good, and you
wanted to believe me, though you already
suspected I couldn’t possibly mean it.
You hadn’t yet fully learned how unreliable
cars and women could be. Together, we
marveled at fjords, read pamphlets on ice
flow, skerries, visited medieval post and lintel
wooden churches before that neo-Nazi
rock musician started arsoning them down.

You wrestled that damn little car
north because I dreamed of seeing reindeer,
because you still wanted to please me. I lied and
promised this was the best vacation ever, that
when we got home, I would finally quiet down.
Though I never did learn to drive stick,
I did figure out that for me, going smoothly
was the tricky part. It didn’t require
as much skill to come to a safe stop: just
depress the clutch, firmly hit the brake.