In our ‘57 Chevy,
coming home late at night,
I would curl up on the floor,
pillowing my head on that hill
that was the driveshaft
to the rear wheels.
Their turning hummed in my ears.
Heat from the exhaust system
warmed the floor beneath me.

Not even a thought of seat belts.
The great wall of my parents
on the front bench seat
protected me.

My father had just had that car repainted
a robin’s egg blue and reupholstered
to celebrate its eighth birthday.

It was the year he got sick.
The car would sit for six years
in our garage as he moved in and out
of beds at home and away.
He would not let us sell the car,
determined he would one day
drive again.
Some days he could
start the engine.
Later, he would ask me to start it
and I was a glad fourteen year old
who drove to the sidewalk
and back up the driveway into the garage.

When he was gone, I sold the car.
My mother could not understand
my eagerness to do so;
my willingness to take so little money
to have it taken away.
She could not understand
how it could have meant so little to me.

Ken Ronkowitz


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