By a Car Door

By Mark Belair

Featured Image: Interior of the Colosseum by Ippolito Caffi
Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

A little boy
in superhero underpants
is made to change clothes
by the open door
of a battered family car
parked on a busy street, his gaunt
mom managing the maneuver
though not quite bothering
to block him from view,

the rest of the family
milling about, each glancing over
impatiently, the scruffy siblings
finally pulling each other’s hair
out of boredom, prompting
a scolding from their pot-bellied dad,
the escalating family tussles
drawing dark scowls
from the overstretched mother,
the little boy’s sense of privacy seeming oddly

complete
despite the utter lack of it
for they all do
wait and no one, tellingly,
has a taunting word
for the exposed, vulnerable boy,
making his family, while fractious,
seem set on spinning him
in a cocoon

of protective, enduring
force meant to stay—
as he launches into the world—
secret and powerful
as superhero underpants.


Mark Belair’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Alabama Literary Review, Euphony Journal, Harvard Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. He is the author of seven collections of poems, most recently the companion volumes Taking Our Time and Running Late (Kelsay Books, 2019). He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times, as well as for a Best of the Net Award.

Originally appeared in NOR 17

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s