My Mother's Red Ford
Roy Bentley

My Mother's Red Ford

Even now, in some parking lot in the Afterlife,
it starts hard. Burns a quart between oil changes.
Even in the territory of the perfect and redeemed,

it needs new rubber—all four tires—a water pump.
Maybe an alternator. If any Galaxie 500 is a Ford
in this life, then so must it be in the life to come.

It’s fifty years, but I still dream of packing the car
to run away and try our luck in New Mexico: four
adolescents panic-loading food blankets pillows,

the gargantuan trunk brimming with whatever fits.
She let me drive it, but I paid my insurance. Repairs.
My first love and I made out, once, in the front seat

at the drive-in. Big bench seat. Sometimes, now,
I’ll see it, one like it, or think I do, and remember
my mother is another life that’s kicked to the curb,

though it happens to all of us with enough miles
and wear in the wrong places. I like to imagine her
pulling up in that red two-door, hair to her shoulders,

Fats Domino or Nat King Cole or late-Elvis loudly
blaring from the AM radio as proof she’d survived
without a man. I love seeing her behind the wheel,

fast-waving her invitation for me to snap a picture.
Like she isn’t disappointed being one of the dead
as long as she gets to go places in that car of hers.

Roy Bentley

was a finalist for the Miller Williams prize for Walking with Eve in the Loved City and has published seven books, including, most recently, American Loneliness (Lost Horse Press). His poems have appeared in Common Ground Review, New Letters, Shenandoah, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle, among other journals.