White Fins

White Fins
Mary Jo White

Everywhere / giant finned cars nose forward like fish.
—Robert Lowell
“For the Union Dead”

Displaced Motor City son, with brothers back home serving
life sentences at GM, Chrysler, Firestone, my father bought
their babied cars, each odometer nudging the hundred-thousand mark,

a Lincoln Continental with encoffinated spare tire, Cadillac
Seville, various Chryslers, one, his favorite, a finned Imperial
that swam through Rochester traffic like some jade-green piscene predator.

Only at ease when prepared for anything, he filled their trunks
with jumper cables, tools, tire chains, a cooler, a jack, stray cans
of oil, a gallon of wiper fluid and, always, a case of Old Fitzgerald beer.

The front passenger seat was reserved for a succession of springers
named Skipper, evil dogs so loathe to leave their privileged perch
at journey’s end, they regularly bit the hand that fed them.

He taught me to drive in a ‘58 swept-wing Dodge, a blue and white boat of a car,
a beauty to be docked rather than parked, one that visits me still in dreams,
his voice telling me, slow down; use your turn signal; dammit, I said slow down!

about the author
MJ White’s poetry has appeared in The Dayton Daily News, Nexus, Fogdog, The English Journal and The Main Street Rag, in the on-line journal Persimmon Tree, and on Border’s (sadly now defunct) Open-Door Poetry website, as well as in Mock Turtle. Some of her poems have also been read on WYSO, on Conrad’s Corner.