--for my now-departed VW station wagon
(in her youth)
Oh glorious blue! Unscratched and true! How
fearful I am to mar you. A bus turns
my way, I fearfully stay, I dare not
aggress–oh to stay new! If only you’d
last three months or two even a few
weeks, such joy I would know! Now I’ve not
got the courage to bring in my thermos
of coffee, nevermore will I chew
on a cookie, nibble toast or a muffin
within your blessed unsoiled interior, lest
I stain or spoil the smooth soft nap of your pearl
gray velour soft upholstery, and no, I’ll never hurl
upon your floor a greasy wrapper or bag–unless
I forget, you see, as I see, we’re both new again!
On finding a picture on his sister’s FaceBook page labeled Family Reunion, John has a difficult dream (he wasn’t invited)
He has driven into his parents’ dining room in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey.
He is in a Corvette. No. He is in a little red tin toy car with foot pedals
and a steering wheel that doesn’t move. Somehow. All 253 pounds. Of
course he can’t get out. There’s turkey baking, sunlight through wine
glasses, voices from the kitchen, a little taste of blood on his tongue. He’s
stuck. His heart beats against the little brass door knobs. Oh let me.
Out. Johnny Mathis is sleek on the turntable. Christmas songs that aren’t
quite right. Oh. Oh. Oh. Your mother’s crystal has crashed off my kitchen
shelves. Prickly diamonds on my floor. To sweep?
Meanwhile, at the homeless shelter parenting class, topic, “Family Conflict,” the hired
expert tells a story about disciplining her boys. “Now, my house has a rather large
foyer and there’s column off to the left that leads to the dining room and off
to the right to the formal living room. I’ve told my boys no sports in the
house, unless it’s in the game room. But can you believe they were throwing a baseball back and forth and running around the dining room table—it seats 16—and I hear a crash
and they’ve knocked over the antique china cabinet I bought for eleven hundred
dollars and I tell them they are going to have to walk the dog for a whole
month to pay off some of the re-glazing costs. They said no fair but I was firm. Now,
who would like to share a problem they’ve encountered in their family?”
It’s supper, the group is eating grits and scrapple. With kitchen knives. Rita
volunteers. “Last night Mike got after Lauren for not doing things the way
he wanted and he had her down on the floor and was wailing away and I got him
off, just barely, and he punched me in my eye and then. . .” Miss Expert is
shaking her head. “Oh, now. I am sure he didn’t mean it. Siblings are always competing
for their parents” I say, excuse me, she doesn’t mean Little Mikey in Head Start,
she means 253 pound 6 foot seven Big Mike, her husband “Yeah, Lauren didn’t want
to do her homework.” Rita’s eye has a lump the size of a baseball.
Ah. John eyes his brother through the kitchen pass-through to the dinette.
His brother (the one who’s a banker, I imagine him pink and plump) has
a carving knife behind his back. He (John, the brother, we’re everyone
in a dream, I know) says, “Excuse me Sir, you’re in my seat.” No room for
two in the little car. It is spinning its wheels in indignation. The knife heading
for the rearview mirror. And the alarm goes off, broken glass.
in a long silk silver skirt s
lit to the thigh, gray
argyle ankle socks stuffed
into bowling shoes small
on his six foot four
frame. Six-inch gold hoops hang
beneath a gray tweed Big Apple. His mama
leans from the door, “You better put on a jacket,
you gonna freeze.” “I be allright Mam.”
Quick baby steps run to the hack
on the corner.