Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Self-Portrait, Nude with Steering Wheel by Paul Durcan


I am forty-five and do not
Know how to drive a car
– And you tell me I am cultured.

Forty-five years creeping and crawling about the earth,
Going up and down the world,
And I do not know the difference between a carburettor and a gasket
– And you tell me I am a Homo sapiens.

Forty-five years sitting in the back seat giving directions
– And you say that I am not an egoist.

Forty-five years sitting in the passenger seat
With my hands folded primly in my lap
– And you think I am liberated.

Forty-five years getting in and out of cars
And I do not know where the dipstick is
– And you tell me that I am a superb lover.

Forty-five years grovelling behind a windscreen
– And you talk of my pride and courage and self-reliance.

Forty-five years of not knowing the meaning of words
Like transmission, clutch, choke, battery, leads
– And you say that I am articulate.

Forty-five years bumming lifts off other people –
And you tell me I am an independent, solitary, romantic spirit.

So it is that you find me tonight
Loitering here outside your front door
Having paid off a taxi in three ten-pound notes,
Nude, with a steering wheel in my hands.

Ruth Padel, 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem: A Poem for Every Week of the Year (London: Vintage, 2004), 219.

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