Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Driver Bearing Down Behind

I don’t really experience the sensation people call “road-rage.” But I have nevertheless experienced what this poem describes. In the prologue to Mark Jarman’s Unholy Sonnets, a mostly unrhymed sonnet begins with the fury of Donne and the humility of Herbert (sorry of that was esoteric). I read it this morning after a fairly frail night, and I had my first moment of connecting with a living poet. Maybe Jarman will be my man.
Please be the driver bearing down behind,
Or swerve in front and slow down to a crawl,
Or leave a space to lure me in, then pull
Ahead, cutting me off, and blast your horn.
Please climb the mountain with me, tailgating
And trying to overtake on straightaways.
Let nightfall make us both pick up the pace,
Trading positions with our high beams glaring.
And when we have exhausted sanity
And fuel, and smoked our engines, then, please stop,
Lurching onto the shoulder of the road,
And get out, raging, and walk up to me,
Giving me time to feel my stomach drop,
And see you face to face, and say, “My Lord!”
Somehow it was a comfort to learn that others out there experience road-rage with God. It was also a comfort to imagine the road-rage is actually part of the redemption, a redemption with the vulnerable tenderness that can only come after a struggle.


Chestertonian Rambler said...


Any of his other poems as good as that? 'Cuz if so, I might just join you there.

Em the luddite said...

I enjoyed the Unholy Sonnets a great deal... they're sonnets about struggling with faith in a secular context. If you find the book anywhere, my favorite was Sonnet 18, a five-sonnet sequence that goes through the church seasons. I wrote a review I may look into publishing about it. I would recommend Jarman; he's an interesting read.