my father was the best man i ever met
and the worst.
they took one of the cars he wrecked
from school to school
blood and hair in the broken windshield
a demonstration of why not to drive drunk.
he thought that story was hilarious.
when he left
he came back for my brother
but not me.
i’d watch them drive away
in his pale yellow mercedes.
i turned 16 and he bought me an old volvo
to drive to community college
but he used my mother’s money. he was like that.
we spun out in the high school parking lot,
me learning stick,
he swore a lot. i swore even more.
i cut my hair off and got a girlfriend,
we didn’t talk til i was 25.
he sent me an apology, pages and pages.
i called him, told him i had bought a new car.
a stick shift is better.
we started mailing poems up and down the coast and he got one about autumn published.
when my daughter was born he said,
that corolla is too small.
he bought me a brand new silver subaru
the car i always wanted.
he drove it from san diego to oakland
and arrived in the dark. he turned on its lights
and tried to show me all the features at midnight.
i was holding his hand when he died.
the rattle choked off
and that was it
there was only the sound of an engine
in the distance,
someone taking the turn too fast.
see it on me
i held her hand in the darkness
on a pink queen mattress
from the discount store,
the one with gold edged furniture
and bunk beds with painted metal frames.
now we’re up in the dark
coffee in an army green thermos,
boots that are hard to pull on.
a kiss at the door.
sometimes in the pitch
i can hear the train whistle.
for decades now, the rush down the track.
children still asleep
and i’m writing this.
you can’t see it on me
but it’s sifted all over,
like fine night.