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? 0 the fruit
you've transported --- cherries, peaches, blueberries,
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 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 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 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 like 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.
--- From Babel
© 2004 Barbara Hamby
(University of Pittsburgh Press)