Getaway Driver

Matthew Olzmann

In the movies, the getaway driver wears
sunglasses. He’s patient while waiting,
staring through the windshield as if bored
by all this tension. Never a bead of sweat.
Never a nervous glance in the rearview mirror.

Here come his conspirators, scampering
from the crime scene, diving into the car’s
open windows. Here’s the cash ripped
from the vault, or the briefcase
of black opals. Watch how he shoots

the car through oncoming traffic, careens
down every narrow alley. See how skillfully
he leaps a guardrail, crashes through
any well-placed roadblock, and never
flinches in the flare of some cinematic gunfire.

When I’m behind the wheel—I’m not
nearly so confident. I’m afraid of dying and,
basically, everything else. I’m always
ready to step away from the vehicle
with my hands raised. But not this time.

I’ve learned to appreciate how quickly
the smoke can clear. When I wake up, you are
dancing or laughing in the next room. Look
at the books on our shelves. Bread on the table,
sangria over ice. Your hand resting in mine.

On every “Greatest Heists of All Time” list,
you can always find Munch’s The Scream,
the fire from Mount Olympus, and all those
shimmery Antwerp diamonds. But I’ll hold
this life up there against any of them.

To keep what’s been stolen, I’m ready
to outrace every law that looks for me.
The sirens could be closing in. The credits
might be about to roll. But the tank is
forever full. The engine, always running.

Matthew Olzmann is the author of Constellation Route as well as two previous collections of poetry: Mezzanines (selected for the 2011 Kundiman Prize) and Contradictions in the Design. His poems have appeared in The New York TimesBest American Poetry, The Pushcart Prizes, and elsewhere. He teaches at Dartmouth College and in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. 

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