the plastic is scratched
and hard underneath.
a bit of breeze lifts hair
as apprehension squints into the distance.
a lone cyclist stops to fix his chain,
pauses for five minutes to have a cigarette.
the sky has one white cloud,
and the city smells like tired dust and sharpened failure.
feels almost silly to wait, tapping fingers on the bench
and wondering why there is strewn garbage a foot away from the wire metal trash container.

see i never really needed her to buy me a car; twice.
it was embarrassing and mostly
(most probably) not a coincidence
that both were totalled in accidents.
i don’t like that feeling of obligation and defeat, having to owe someone for something that is supposed to be mine.
a car becomes a part of you, the skin, the shell you put on to greet the world. it’s like you wanted me to resent you for your kindness and love you for the spite.
the endless degrees of climb – inherited willfulness.

roma had this way of wearing a frown. it was obvious she was displeased, but the standards remain hidden. wouldn’t go so far as to tell you what to do, so you get used to that hard stare of judgment. just about every other kid she raised hated her for it. but me? i simply did not let her into my world; not so much rebellious as it was curiosity on my part– to see how far misunderstanding took mendacity. even the great-grandkids of that other family were seen to count. not us, though. we were her punishment.

there is a different sort of anxiety, to not own a car. at some point i will find the strength to walk more and not feel like i am less. all the insects zooming by, the exoskeleton man was never born-with. yes i’ll have some sort of fitness persona, find a better life as a person that walks. car insurance always felt like extortion. car repair always felt like supplicating royalty to grant a wish. you bow and you bow and you bow some more.

she didn’t believe in putting a radio in the car.

they line up on one wall of pep boys:
mostly i remember the smell– thick rubber slap in the face of industry, man’s invention of the wheel (tires). prices that go up as you go right.

as you move, your heart goes further to the ground. then you step on it, leave a footprint of envy. but it’s more like desire that you smile at, while waiting for a bus.
only the fool waves, but here you are waving to the cyclist before he disappears around the corner.

she was always hesitant behind the wheel–yes, i remember that. but me? — i took off with a confidence seldom earned. slow became a part of the wishful transformation, so they could believe i wasn’t a danger to their secrets. oh but she new better; she knew i moved with no regrets.

so do you, but fear isn’t something we take out to tea, is it? i am just going on. roma was kind when she wanted you to believe she was kind. i loved her anyway. she wanted me to take life more seriously. but if i did, that bus bench would feel like forever. and here it comes now…pulling up to the curb, and i spot my reflection in the door. don’t ever ask me to forget how she smiled when she knew she was beat.



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