His right arm was extended,
Pall Mall between his fingers,
his wrist resting casually on
that giant steering wheel.
It was a dark green ’55 Buick,
with peach side-body panels.
It broke his heart
when my uncle totaled it.
A window in time, ’55 to ’65,
one that normally takes
a backseat to my teen years,
opened before me, today.
The decade leading to ’93 holds
my most powerful memories of him.
As it should.
Those are the last.
In those days,
I would easily be behind the wheel
when we were together. Equals,
though I’m not sure I knew it, then.
But those preteen years?
My father was still larger than life to me,
and not much more than a kid, himself,
when I met him in ’53.
The view through that window to ’58
looked like a carefree ride,
but his hard work made us strangers to
the hardships he endured as a child.
A car ride could mean adventure,
the beach, camping or a country drive,
but he could be at ease
just driving to the store.
For myself, being at ease came late,
but inheriting that work ethic provided
the opportunity for an early retirement.
If he could see me now, he’d be smiling.
He’s always in my thoughts,
but it’s the week surrounding his birthday
that makes me melancholy.
I wish I could see him at eighty-two.
My own carefree ride today,
arm stretched across the steering wheel,
(never a cigarette between my fingers)
let me see him, once more, at twenty-eight.