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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 35 page 02


A Jalopy Doesn't Start As One

by Katie Chicquette Adams

Sometimes I think this love we’ve got,
the one we’ve driven around and nearly
into the ground is like a car with the bumper attached by zip ties or tape;
some days a vehicle such as this, flirting with disaster as it is,
does only its job, no more, no less.
Other days it brings a little pain —
the pain of anxiety that the time is coming
when these ephemeral, insufficient connectors
will fail, the strung-on bumper will clatter to the ground,
the sound will jolt us, remind us: more resources will be required
in order to permanently fix this — perhaps more
than we presently seem to have

The poignancy, unmissable:
remember when this thing was brand new?
When we first kicked the tires on taking it
for the long haul?

We were good (weren’t we?) about routine maintenance —
but maybe that word – routine — is half the problem.
No routine can avoid disruption,
uninterrupted by the shifts each new phase of life will demand:
we couldn’t stay at one speed around every curve —
there were dangers around which we had to swerve,
then stop, then catch a breath, and let the adrenaline recede.

These times, these gear shifts, they are harder
on our mechanisms than we realize, sometimes —
they add pings and knocks to our old smooth hum,
the sensation of ease we miss now, looking back.
I’ve seen those shows, you know the ones:
the house or car or ugly old thing is attacked with
creative fervor and voilà: a gasp, a sigh, at least one
someone will cry, and everyone rejoices at the return,
at the glorious refurbishment of broken down treasure.

What is that process for us, my love? Through which expert eyes
will we spot out the upgrade we most need and desire,
then execute the overhaul with fervor and panache?
Must we just be steadfast, saving up pennies bit by bit,
living through the pinch and hoping we soon can afford
the better version we think we deserve? Or should we
head to the library for you-fix-it books, to the web for the videos that explain,
you can do this yourself, you just have to know how.