Thursday, October 8, 2009

"For My Daughter, Inan" by Marie Howe

Here's a poem by Marie Howe for her daughter, Inan. I remember babysitting Inan when she was in Ann Arbor. Howe was teaching at UofM in the MFA program. I took Inan to the Hands-On Museum. She begged me to buy her toys in the gift shop. It was good practice for having my own kid. :)

I don't know where this poem is from. Dorianne Laux posted it to Facebook. It might be from Howe's latest book The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. Sadly I do not yet own it, though it was just released in paperback so I should go pick it up.

For My Daughter, Inan

When my K-turn hit the curb of Grosvenor Road,
and I circled the wide streets parallel parking
and failed the first test
and failed the second test.

Every car I ever climbed into—

When our father drove those winding mountain roads drunk
sliding and drifting around the curves,
and the little kids cried quietly in the backseat holding on to my hands,

In Tom Drexel's blue Chevy, learning how to kiss,

In the mad professor's Volkswagen stinking of pipe smoke
when he drove me to that cabin frightened and brought me back changed,

In the back of the old station wagon, bored and dreamy,
watching the moon follow,

In the blue skylark convertible with the white bucket seats,
In the yellow Thunderbird my father let me drive
if I remembered to bring back the keys,

In the old red Oldsmobile driving through a winter morning
so icy and early only the milking barns were lit,

In the back seat of the limousine on the way to the cemetery,
Running over the already dead raccoon,

Applying mascara at the red lights,

When we climbed back in still wet from the quarry,
When I staggered out drunk and wearing his ring,

When the car wouldn't start. When the heater broke.

When I waited in the car to hear the rest of the song.

When I drove crying so hard I had to pull over,
the fields in late summer, and the little clump of cows chewing.

Throwing the cigarette out the window,
Burning my tongue on the tea,
Spilling the tuna fish sandwich on my lap as I downshifted,

When the policeman waved me down, the wipers slapping,

When I sat alone in the car—leaning on the steering wheel
gazing through the front window,

When I turned the key in the ignition and once again started,
It turns out I never made a wrong turn,

All those times I thought I was lost? I wasn't.

Every car I ever climbed into—I was driving towards you.

(Marie Howe)

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