Heather M.F. Lyke


Thank you.

Too often it’s a gas station attendant
who wonders if a six-shifter gearbox
is ‘too much for me to handle’
or the car salesman
who is surprised to learn a manual transmission
is more important to me than the car’s color.

So, thank you for asking me about my horsepower
without conditioning it with an
‘I’ll wait for you to check your owner’s manual,’
and for sharing your car history with me
based on the assumption that I care,
rather than the belief that you’re boring me.

And thank you for asking to drive my car,
just as my husband often does,
because both of you see power as an asset.
And for asking not because you don’t think I can’t handle it
but because you want to know what it feels like to experience
the control and strength that I singlehandedly manage every day.

And, thank you for sharing that you wish your
‘girlfriend had the confidence to drive a stick’
because that shifted light onto the real problem:
we raise our girls to be nothing but coquettish and kind,
and we raise our boys to think that’s acceptable.
So, thank you for realizing that’s bullshit.

Too often it’s my own father
wondering if I’m emasculating my husband
by holding a higher degree, by making more money—
or my own brother
who shares with me that my losing a few pounds
is all I need to be beautiful, to be wanted.

So, thank you for telling me that I’m sexy
(in a very respectful, not-at-all-catcallish way)
because of my transmission and my horsepower.
You and I both know that what makes me sexy
is what’s under the hood,
is that I am in control of what gear I’m in,
and that I can pass any man on the road.

Oh, and also, thank you for the free skim milk mocha.

Heather M. F. Lyke is a writer living in southern Minnesota. By day, she works in the world of K-12 education. On evenings and weekends, she creates. She builds things out of nothing: sometimes with paint, occasionally with fabric, but most often with words.