Thursday, March 10, 2005

Ode to My 1977 Toyota
Engine like a Singer sewing machine, where have you
    not carried me-to dance class, grocery
into the heart of darkness and back again? O the fruit
    you've transported-cherries, peaches,
watermelons, thousands of Fuji apples-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
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
was getting on I-10 with you and not stopping. Would you
    have made it to New Orleans? What would
our life
have been 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
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.
Barbara Hamby