Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2011 v10n1
print version

Phenix City

The vinyl bench seat, seasoned by decades
           of Armor All and rich-
running carbs, cooked. I sat there wondering
           what had happened
to Sin City’s missing o. Lord knows I’d never
           been east of Auburn
on my own. Just to appease Mom, I’d tested out
           the ’72,
but that’s how it happens. Next, you find yourself
           years later waiting
in a parking lot for Cutlass Ken, your parts guy
           for any make or model
of the poor man’s Cadillac. Across the parkway:
           the flashy raffle
of used car flags, a few bulletproof gas stations,
           and the bowed cab
of a semi with its hood hatched toward the river.
           A two-tone blue
dually rolled up alongside what remained of the ’72,
in my full-moon hubcaps. Without a look at me,
           Ken eyed it from
fender to fender, the oily curl of his ducktails
           and mustache dyed
black as the Looney Tunes T-shirt swallowing his arms.
           The dually gurgled.
He nodded after awhile, said to c’mon and I followed
           across a bridge,
a couple of miles, to what had to have been his place,
           then parked
in the grass behind him. Rows of Cutlass
           carcasses and parts
of Cutlasses sloped down to a kudzu-covered fence,
           and beyond that
the chop shop river wrinkled and winked. He’d get me
           good as new.
The sun slanted in, glancing off chrome and glass,
           the time of day
when colors by the Chattahoochee come most alive.
           Metals blued,
the ragweed blazed, the rust gave off its indigo
           of oxidation.
Mimosa saplings sprung from wheel wells and hoods
           burnished by use.
I could see the filigree of veins inside leaves
           and believed
for a moment, for years, those Cutlasses could rise.  end

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