Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
I learn that there is a word for it—-

For months now, I have chipped 
at its jagged edges, night 
after night, tapping on pressure point
after pressure point—-
clearing statements quivering 
on pale lips.

I work through my gnawing fears
and prepare to meet David.

He is mine from two to five today 
and he waits on the hill
at the turn of Westbourne Road—-
a slick silver fox preening in the sun.
I slide into his embrace and strap myself in,
and he powers up as I repeat
my many affirmations. 
With him, it is somehow different—- 
I feel instantly safe—-
there are no flashbacks of sound 
or images and my chest is no longer 
a pounding anvil hammering the shape 
of the fear that has kept me off 
the asphalt.

David—he understands—
he who smells of vinyl and assurances—-
a comfort I have known only once 
before, in the seat of my old hatchback.

So I hold the dimpled leather
of his circular hands
and approach the dotted terror
of the Give Way sign
snarling at the turn to the highway.

Ribbons of metal snake past
but I’m braver now—-
and I wait for the gap, and brace
to merge, with the whirring 
of David’s hybrid heart
reverberating through my arms—-
Breathe in, breathe out 
You will be ok, love.

Contextual Essay: Although I got my license at 18, I didn’t really drive till I was about 30. Driving became something that was anxiety-inducing, something that I always tried to avoid. If I drove, it was because I had absolutely no choice. Last year I started working on clearing my fear of driving in Sydney, using EFT tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique). I finally mustered the courage to book the driving test after seven years of walking and taking public transport in Australia. I passed the driving test first go. Since Covid has delayed the production of vehicles, I am still waiting for my car to arrive. In the meantime, I get around in a GoGet Corolla whose booking name is David. I don’t think of him as a car. He is my non-human companion. I now drive everywhere in David. And I am completely free of my phobia. 

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a widely published Indian-Australian artist, poet, and improv pianist. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, nine times for the Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the Dai Fry Memorial Award for Mystical Poetry 2022 (Wales). She is the author of three micro-chapbooks published by Origami Poems Project (US).  She lives and works in Sydney on traditional Gammeragal land. Find her at http://www.instagram.com/oormila_paintings



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