Pontiac

my daughter already talks about the
car she wants an Audi, new, shiny
that her friends will admire like
her iPhone with apps that take
wrinkles out of faces in photos

I tell her about my maroon
dented station wagon, Pontiac
1986 Michigan-made to barely
last past puberty

I parked it with pride
my piece of remembering
that life is unreliable
always ready to
start then stop

blind to history my daughter
will never know the struggle of
driving a car that quit, gave up

for her they don’t exist
like rotary phones
like an indigenous name
turned into painted steel

Old House In Virginia

Maybe you want to take photos of the paintings to show Liz, see if she might like them, my mom says, as we walk on worn wooden floorboards. The house smells old, slightly musty from the never opened windows, old like the Chickering grand piano that sits in the living room. We can’t even give it away, my mom says. It is from 1910 and apparently has an affliction that no piano doctor can cure, age.

I go into the basement where I used to play Ping-Pong, lift weights, hit the heavy bag. Only the netless table remains, labeled boxes piled on top. I see my name on some, peer inside to find yearbooks, faded inscriptions urging me to have a great summer, get laid, get psyched for high school. I look through old photo albums, take out my iPhone, snap shots of me with bangs, wearing polo shirts, my dad on a Honda motorcycle, send them to my wife. Cute, she texts back.

At night I tuck my son into bed, where he sleeps in my old room. My desk is gone, the mirror where I adjusted ties, gone, the wallpaper where I scribbled a girlfriend’s name, stripped off long ago.

Outside I amble along with the robins, squirrels, and chipmunks, everything so green and quiet compared to San Francisco’s flamboyant tech-savvy noise. Anonymous, I walk like an old man past young families, past houses where I used to eat ice cream, where I watched the Redskins on TVs with antennas, where I threw water balloons. Summer sun, the light is the same, the humidity, nothing has changed, I’m strolling through 1986.

Then I look across the street, stare at Howard and Dorothy’s former house where I used to rake leaves, both dead for years, my parents tell me. Back inside, my son is excited, shows me the time machine that he is building. I give him a kiss, I love it, I say.