Issue Sixteen - April 2010

When I Knew the Makes and Models

By John Sangster

I could walk down Hamlin street,
name them all: 1939 Lincoln Zephyr,
`41 Chevrolet Special Deluxe Coupe.
A boy, ten years old, 
alone in his world of cars.

I might trace my hand along a fender’s arc, 
take in my reflection on polished surfaces: 
the short-fat me on the radius of the door,
the miniature short-fat me on the bumper’s curve;

stand back and squint to catch the lines 
of a 1940 Mercury Town Sedan,
perfect slope of the tear-drop back. 
Grilles that smiled or frowned.
Hood ornaments, dramatic, 
a bare-breasted woman in flight, 
or simple, a chrome accent.

My first high, the smell of gasoline.
The feel of felt above my head
and nap on the seats, its musty interior smell; 
cigarettes crushed in the tray, that smell too.

A Buick’s whine in low, 
the rhythmic thrum of a Ford V-8,
ticking of an engine cooling down.

I could walk down Hamlin street, maybe sit on a running board, palms down. Dig in, push back. Hear those springs?

Copyright John Sangster 2010