It sits at the foot of the leather chair in your living room.
A car, carved from a single piece of wood
when your father was just a boy.
Nothing recognizable, simply a design
in the mind of a child too sensitive for his time and place.
There is a ribbon taped to the bottom with old cellophane tape.
Third place. A national award from General Motors,
a contest created to awaken young designers,
and set them on a path of creativity and industrial design.
It took. You have the drawings your father made,
all swooping fenders and steel lines.
They beat much of his heart out of him in that time and place.
They made him tough and hard, his brokenness disguised
as strength and rough corners. He tended his wounds
with alcohol and anger.
But his desire to create never left him. Sober, he was brilliant,
an innate understanding of things and possibilities
punctuated his life and through him, mine.
He died just a few short years ago.
We have choices of what to remember. What to keep.
I choose things like this car that sits unobtrusively
at the foot of the leather chair. I choose made things
and they surround me like an aura, even
when they go unnoticed by those who merely come and go.
About this poem
Pretty autobiographical, both for my father and myself. The car and the prize and the bullying and the tender heart scarred, alcohol, and my memories are all real things.