David Bradford: Riding Bitch


I must have been 9 or 10,
divorce still but a pipe dream,
and just barely, then, taller than my mother,
and just at 5 feet.

I called shotgun, the callow son
swinging the Altima door open,
only to have him
tell me
to sit my ass in the back,

that the front was my mother’s
until I graduated
from high school
and became, as such, a man.

Riding bitch
in the car he chose
and she was paying for,
running on gas she’d bankrolled,
fed on hamburger steaks she got
and cooked, blandly,
and heading to a movie
she’d budgeted for
and he’d settled on
on her Saturday
and one of his several days off school
and just she was paying for.

He was wearing one of those
fancy, thick Barbarian
rugby shirts
he’d had her spring for, again,
collar freshly re-starched
and re-ironed
at his request.

She was wearing a sweatshirt
from the bargain bin
at Woolco.

And he had said, quite clearly,
“high school.”

And I like to think
I just called it, right there,

looked for nothing
but my mother’s eyes
in the mirror
the whole way there.


David Bradford is a Montréal-based writer and photographer. His current column, Village Idiot, runs sporadically on Forget The Box. It is largely about a bit of everything, mostly irrelevant, and woefully autobiographical.