rear window of a 1992 Toyota hatchback
[ This photo is in the public domain. ]

This morning, they towed away
my childhood.

We all gasped to see it, at first:
white behemoth in the driveway.
A harmless beast, though,
vehicular elephant porting us
to grandmother’s house.
We looked out through its eyes
on those long highways,
hunched down in its belly,
that much-contested back window seat.
I was sick there once—
that citrus cover-smell lingers
in my memory with hay,
sweet grain, eau de black dogs.

They took my adolescence, too.

I learned to drive in the tattered
hatchback, gray and lumpy
after five kids and 200,000 miles.
It had to cope with my learning curve—
at least one tree never made it
to climbable stature. But
I dreamed up my first freedoms
driving to piano, wrote my first
poetry coming home from church.
It was behind that wheel
where I first had an inkling
of myself.

’99 Chevy church bus.
’92 Toyota station wagon.
They took both at once,
continuing the sweet slip
of familiar into nostalgia,
the slow erosion of home.