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Grandpa's '58 Buick

By Steven Ratiner / October 7, 1996

Not like the cars today,

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all poly-plastic and high-tech tin.

Those babies had bulk,

enough steel to girder a building

or build a bridge. His was bruise-blue,

the color of summer sky just before rain,

and the ribbed wool upholstery

itched like mad on a boy's bare skin.

The last time I rode in that car,

we were coming back from Cobleskill,

cruising downhill into Sharon Springs.

I fooled with the radio,

poked an arm from the window

cupping the cool air.

I charged the cigarette lighter and stared

into the coiled orange ember of an eye.

For the last hundred yards, Grandpa

sat me on his lap and let me

pilot the Buick home.

It handled like a battleship

in shallow water. I tugged hard

on the amber steering wheel

and docked it in the driveway.

Things that big don't disappear.

It was sold, after the funeral,

sold again and again, I suppose.

But I'll bet that somewhere

its battered body sits,

buttressing a junk heap,

the blue doors dissolving

into feathers of rust,

its chromium grille pitted and crimped,

yet bright enough to still give back

a bit of a summer sky.