Getting You Back

the car
the car

Getting You Back


"Getting You Back"

You never let me have the car.
so one night, I stole it anyway.
Drove it piled high with my friends
across the bridge to Jersey where we
drank beer and ran up the mileage
and nobody wore seat belts.

I was getting you back.

For having weird, outdated eyewear
and a totally un-cool comb-over that
we laughed at when you weren’t around.

The car was a 1960 Rambler
with a pinkish primer coat in place of a paint job
push button transmission
reclining pleather seats
and strange, curvy tail lights
resembling exotic eyelashes
over red winking eyes.
The tail lights used to embarrass me
for some reason
but not enough to keep me
from wanting the car.

I was getting you back.

For not helping me with my homework
because you only went as far as the sixth
grade and had to learn a trade instead.
For our faces bearing no resemblance
while the rest of the world’s children
had their parent's faces superimposed
over their own.
I was getting you back for that too.

Because, even though I appeared
out of nowhere, you called me your daughter
without passing anything down to me
not a freckle or a dimple... not even a lousy allergy.

For being a mechanic and raising a poet.

And for keeping those rare
Paul Newman diamond blue eyes all to yourself.

I was getting you back.

I was busy growing up and
you were busy growing tomatoes
in a pot on the radiator (much to mom's
annoyance) in the dead of winter.
Until the day we found you gently picking
one tiny, summer- perfect
miracle that looked like a cherry tomato
and tasted like a grapefruit.

Yesterday, while rummaging through
an old shoebox of ragged-edged Polaroids,
I found a few of you
out fishing with your brothers
on a grayish dock
hoisting up a grayish fish
still hooked and heavy and
hanging perilously close to your head
with a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon
beside your left foot and you're
wearing a facial expression
bordering on pride.

There’s the one of you and mom
riding horses on your honeymoon.
Mom looks absolutely petrified and
the horses look incredibly bored and
you look exactly the same as you do
in the one with you and the fish.

Then I found a picture of you
cradling me with callused
hands more comfortable curled
around a hammer handle
your work toughened fingers
standing out in stark relief
against the soft
grayness of the blanket.

It was our first day together and you
were handing me to Mom
(who was sitting in the Rambler)
her face a pale cathedral and
yours, so amazed, that those rare
Paul Newman diamond blue eyes
are breaking right up
through the gray wash
holding even more of me
than your hands were.

© 2010 susan beck

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Comments 18 comments

Sonya L Morley profile image

Sonya L Morley 4 years ago from Edinburgh

Your poetry is amazing, I am looking forward to reading more!


Unowho1 5 years ago

writing about yours, reminds me of mine.

thanks!


becca g 5 years ago

without a doubt to your last comment, as far as the poem goes it really opens my eyes as a biological daughter to how an adopted child can hold the same but very different resentments. having a child does make you appreciate your parents and view them very differently because you get a chance to understand the sacrifice. love, whether spoken or not, is understood. your father loved you as you loved him, you both knew it.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thank you, attempted humour. In the end, our children will hopefully view us through softer lenses than they did when they were younger.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 6 years ago from Australia

I've had a few squabbles with my eldest daughter but i know that i've got a million runs on the board that one day she will put into their true perspective. I don't have spell check on comments so i have to guess a few words and i'm a bit worried about that red pen in your handbag. Our folks are a pain sometimes until we become them ourselves then our kids take their place. Another great poem really inspiring to know how far we need to stretch ourselves in search of that bar you have set so periously high.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thanks, a horseback...you too:)


ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 6 years ago

What a great tribute to a dad. Makes me realize I've got to call my little girl....stay well.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thanks Mickey Dee. I'm glad I could be of service:)


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

God - this makes me miss my daughter and our first day! I've never loved anyone so! This stirred so many emotions. Thanks Steele!


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thanks for stopping by, Pearldiver. I appreciate your kind words. Perhaps you're right about the hubs but I still think you should separate them so people are sure to savor them slowly one at a time. Anyway, hope to talk to you again soon.


Pearldiver profile image

Pearldiver 6 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

Just reading you back! Very Nice, Isn't it amazing how we look at shoeboxes, when we know what they once meant to another. Thanks for sharing your talent. Oh and why do some of us put more than one poem in a hub. Maybe it has to do with the quality and length of the work.. For me reading..this poem has a perfect length and standalone quality. Take Care. I loved PA when I was in the States.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thanks again, Ralwus. Once you've driven a Rambler, you don't easily forget it.


ralwus 6 years ago

I really liked 'pleather seats'. Nice job on this one, poignant and the description of the car was dead on.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Sometimes we just don't know how we really feel about people until they are gone. It was that way with my Dad. He didn't understand me a bit and I think I resented him for it until many years after his death when in hindsight, his "squareness" had become somehow endearing.


lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 6 years ago from Bishop, Ca

This is amazing. So stark somehow, yet full of longing.

Thank you.


Steele Fields profile image

Steele Fields 6 years ago from drexel hill,pa Author

Thank you so much for your support of my writing. You are right about the rhythmic aspect-- I work on that aspect of my poetry more than anything. It takes many drafts before I publish anything because I am so obsessive. Do you revise your own writing much before you publish? As for the Paul Newman part, I have always loved him and associate my Dad's blue eyes with his-- they are almost the exact same color.


Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

Can I assume those "Paul Newman eyes" were some of your first memories? I love the rhythm in your writing. I see it in each one you produce. It is unique and gives his approach a signature style. I am a fan! WB


AEvans profile image

AEvans 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Beautiful that you were able to embrace the moment your father held you in his arms and through all that you may thought he was, the man that held you loved you immensely! Beautiful hub, keep writing! :)

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