Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Ode to My 1977 Toyota Barbara Hamby [Could also read "Ode to my 1984 Volkwagen"] Engine like a Singer sewing machine, where have you not carried me--to dance class, grocery shopping, into the heart of darkness and back again? O the fruit you've transported--cherries, peaches, blueberries, watermelons, thousands of Fuji applies--books, and all my dark thoughts, the giddy ones, too, like bottles of champagne popped at the wedding of two people who will pass each other on the street as strangers in twenty years. Ronald Reagan was president when I walked into Big Chief Motors and saw you glimmering on the lot like a slice of broiled mahi mahi or sushi without its topknot of tuna. Remember the months I drove you to work singing "Some Enchanted Evening"? Those were scary times. All I thought about was getting on I-10 with you and not stopping. Would you have made it to New Orleans? What would our life have bee like there? I'd forgotten about poetry. Thank God, I remembered her. She saved us both. We were young together. Now we're not. College boys stop us at traffic lights and tell me how cool you are. Like an ice cube, I say, though you've never had air conditioning. Who needed it? I would have missed so many smells without you-- confederate jasmine, magnolia blossoms, the briny sigh of the Gulf of Mexico, rotting 'possums scattered along 319 between Sopchoppy and Panacea. How many holes are there in the ballet shoes in your back seat? How did that pair of men's white loafers end up in your trunk? Why do I have so many questions, and why are the answers like the animals that dart in front of your headlights as we drive home from the coast, the Milky Way strung across the black velvet bowl of the sky like the tiara of some impossibly fat empress who rules the universe but doesn't know if tomorrow is December or Tuesday or June first.

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