By Maya Jewell Zeller
Featured art: Morning, Interior by Maximilien Luce
Winner, New Ohio Review Poetry Contest
selected by Billy Collins
It’s all there—the stuff
no one wants to say is theirs anymore,
the single-slate pool table, the six-person
tent, a complete professional tattoo set
complete with analog power supply.
And my father’s 1988 Corvette.
He is no longer sad
to see it go, though he does lament,
my mother tells me, that young people
these days no longer want something like it.
They want a car with good
mileage, something they can take
a child to preschool in, cart around
the six-person tent.
My mother stands
at the sink telling me this, dumping cucumber
peels into the old Folgers container she uses
for compost, scrubbing down a pot with steel
wool. Or at least I imagine she does. She tells me
on the phone, while I lean over these soapy
dishes and watch my neighbor mow her lawn,
back and forth
like a metronome, her long hair
switching across her back
when she turns. I think of the tan line
it could leave, the way our bodies
hold shadows of what they aren’t
anymore. I think of her husband, still healing
from a broken leg. He wakes at dawn
to work the good part of the day at the Air Force
base, his crutches moving him over the tarmac
while men shout and swerve.
He loves his wife. I have seen him bring her coffee
in the cold dark hours of winter mornings
when on his days off he wakes
long before he must want to,
pulls up below me in his white sedan,
crosses his short expanse of yard
holding those cups as if he holds the whole
night in his hands. He does not want to spill
any of it. He does not know
I am watching. It is early. This is love.
I know he must have been up until the moon
crested high over Monroe Street, competing
with the taverns at one a.m., making its slow
journey toward Orion. I want to buy him
my father’s Corvette. I want him to take
his lawn-mowing wife for a ride.
They are the kind of young people
who might make use of that car if they had it. I can see him
now, driving with his son in the hills above
the city, his tattooed arm comfortable on the window,
the other cocked lithely at the wheel. My father,
when he was young,
had a tattoo done that says Marie.
We used to tell my sister it was for her
middle name, before she was old enough to figure out
lies, to see the difference between what a person keeps
and what he sells, between what someone is
and what he could have been.
Maya Jewell Zeller is the author of the interdisciplinary collaboration (with visual artist Carrie DeBacker) Alchemy For Cells & Other Beasts (Entre Rios Books, 2017), the chapbook Yesterday, the Bees (Floating Bridge Press, 2015), and the poetry collection Rust Fish (Lost Horse Press, 2011). Maya is Associate Professor for Central Washington University and Poetry Editor for Scablands Books.