When Juanita, my Toyota Corolla, finally died
seven years after our divorce,
coughing her last oily “Rosebud” of gray combustion
to the gated junkyard
hanging above all our heads,
her own radio crackled that she’d idle eternally
with Buick 8’s and Studebakers, then her radio died too.
I tooted her horn and surmised her speedometer,
forever 0 mph.
“Best car I ever had,” I said aloud,
which might seem ridiculous to an insurance appraiser.
Her body was ¼ Bondo, ⅛ duct tape,
and the rest rust that refused finally to collapse.
I got out and kicked the fender—
a rusted shard the shape of Madagascar
fell the five inches that separated it from the ground
for half a million miles.
Half a million miles. Five inches.
“Something strange there,” I said aloud again,
not caring what any risk appraisers might say—
What did they know? At our wedding,
they all told us how perfect we were together,
I picked up the oxidized offshoot
and brought it to the cloning joint in Princeton.
“You can do sheeps and cats,” I said.
“I want another Juanita.”
The twin clerks behind the counter
replied at the same time,
“We can try—but let us warn you:
With objects of nostalgia,
we are likely to replicate smacks
more than the sublime purity
Three days later, I picked her up.
Damn it all, they were right.
the seats had no cigarette holes,
no fast food sheen on the center console—
no character. The perfections,
as suggested, weren’t there.
in the passenger seat, your long brown hair
shimmying to Van Morrison’s voice—
the rain beginning to keep the beat
on the hood, the roof, the as-of-yet undefiled fender—
and the windshield wipers waving before us
like arms at the rock concert,
like fronds on Palm Sunday,
like a gavel that keeps swinging back on the judge
who just can’t bring himself to decree—
and the rain? Smacked away forever
the moment after the moment
we knew it was there, right in front of us.
We’d have half a million miles.
Each day would become a small gift
we never picked up.
Our hands were already too full,
It might be better tomorrow.
It never was.
And it was.