He called to say he needed a new car

and she knew all about cars so would she 
help him. She said she knew all about horses,
but he said, horse power, same thing,
so, neck brace, crutches, all, she went. All

up and down the Gordon Highway, used 
car banners like jockeys’ colors flew.
They stroked old steering wheels, inspected tires,
patted boots and opened hoods like mouths

to check the teeth. He wanted sound 
but cheap. Look, she said, this old grey
dray horse, full-sized, V8, air-sprung, power 
brakes, leather seats like new, like on the hoof. Hit some-

body in this old tank, or they hit you, you’ll never know it. 
Already sick, and penniless he claimed, 
he bought it anyway, 6000 cash, 
as if an accident might be the horse that threw him. 

No sooner home than the back began to fill,
trash like water in a flash flood, trash
until all but the driver’s seat was drowning.
He drove to her house three weeks later,

falling, staring, shaking, vomiting. Where’s my car, 
he asked her hourly, until he stopped 
believing in cars or hours at all.  
She kept the car, inherited, his nephew said, 

drove it in lieu of the spinal operation –
This car saved my life, she says 
and slaps the dash the way she would a stallion’s neck.
Good boy, good boy, she says to him, good boy.

For S.F. Jr (1935-2013)

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash


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