When I look at the old car
backed into the cleared-out space in the shed,
I can almost understand
those bewildered men who leave
their softening wives in middle age, up-
and-walk-out after decades
of marriage and family, to take up
with some buffed and waxed young thing
with great lines, horsepower
to burn and a dazzling array
of untested equipment.
When I look at the old car’s
headlights, dulled with disuse and staring
at me, as if to say, What did I ever do?
Wasn’t I always good to you?
Turned over every morning, rain or snow
to start your day? Kept you safe
all these years, mile after mile?
And I’m filled with guilt and say with feeling
You’re absolutely right. You were the best. There’ll never
be another you, as I glance surreptitiously
at my cute new model sitting in the old car’s space
in the garage and explain, You just got old.
You’re falling apart. And besides, I say,
I’ve fallen in love. We’re already living together.
And the old car looks like it might be wired
So I walk across the yard
and look at the new car,
and it occurs to me that before too long
the new car will be old, the suspension
will sag and things will fall off.
And like the lout who’ll use up
his young fling and want to trade in again,
we’ll deny that we’ve put on some miles ourselves,
dump this one in the shed and go shopping —
until someone lays a firm hand on our arm
and says Enough. You just can’t drive any more.
“When I Look at the Old Car” by Marcia F. Brown, from What on Earth. © Moon Pie Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.