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Sixteen and a half with a brand new driver’s
license in my wallet, driving my father’s
’47 two-toned old clunky Pontiac, I turned
left off Hempstead Turnpike when a car swims
shark-like in front of me and I’m twisting
the steering wheel left right when somehow
the wheel takes over, spinning this way then
that and suddenly it’s over, the danger past,
and the shark disappears into the past, and I
can breathe again. Sixty-five years ago this was
and I still don’t understand what happened.

Do you believe in Guardian Angels?
Well, friend, since that day I confess I do.
They have strength, for sure, like the one
who wrestled Jacob all that night. What is
this force behind the wheels that spin around
the earth? Heaven wheels above you to reveal
her glories. And still our eyes stay focused
on the ground. But even there, trapped behind
that wheel, something descended that day to save
my car and me, and I am left to tell the story.

—Paul Mariani