A Race Car Made of Sand

By Margot Wizansky

Featured art: “Beach of Bass Rocks, Gloucester, Massachusetts” by Frank Knox Morton Rehn

Everything made my mother nervous:
the baby crying, sand on the floor, the flies.
So we went out to the beach.
I took my bucket and shovel.
My mother sat my little brother up on her shoulders
and carried the towels and a canvas chair for my father,
who was too weak to carry anything.
He wore his cabaña suit, light green with white palm trees,
his legs, pale like the sheets in the hotel room.
He hadn’t shaved.


His face had been blue for weeks,
the circles under his eyes, dark as his beard.
Mother said I was too heavy to sit in his lap.
All afternoon I dug a string of frantic little ponds.
Nothing was right; my back was sunburnt;
my father hardly moved.
Uncle Robert came, like a bus from the city,
to build me a race car of sand, with jar lids
for hubcaps and for headlights, clamshells,
and he found a quoit on the beach for the steering wheel.
He dug me a driver’s seat that just fit,
and a rumble seat for my little brother.
My father peeled me an apple with his penknife,
in one long piece, that didn’t ever break.


Wizansky’s poems appear in journals such as New Ohio Review, Spillway, Cimarron, Missouri Review. She edited Mercy of Tides, Rough Places Plain, and What the Poem Knows, Tribute to Barbara Helfgott Hyett. She won a Carlow University residency, Ireland, a Writers@Work fellowship, Salt Lake City, transcribed the oral history of Emerson Stamps, his grandparents, enslaved, parents, sharecroppers. Missouri Review, 2018, featured poems about him. Wild for Life, her chapbook, is forthcoming: Lily Poetry Review, 2022.

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