The Infinite Night

Like my first full-sized bicycle, my first car was also a hand-me-down, but this time I fared a little better. When I was a newly licensed sixteen-year-old, I was lucky enough to inherit the 1956 Corvette that my oldest brother had bought with his grocery clerk earnings in 1966, and then left with us on the farm when he moved away a few years later.

The car was a thing of beauty � a dark-blue fiberglass convertible with the loudest, most melodious set of chrome mufflers I have ever heard. Even in fourth gear, when I drove past the old brick buildings on Main Street, the town was bathed in the car�s echo. And it was fast. According to my brother, it was capable of seventy miles an hour in first gear and ninety in second � an accomplishment I never tried to repeat, because for me, speed was far less important than freedom and aesthetics.

We kept the car in our equipment shed between two ancient vineyard trailers. I drove it each morning to school, and anywhere else I could think of later on � alone, or with a friend in the other seat, or, on certain festive occasions, with a friend in the friend�s lap. In the summer of 1973, I drove it six days a week to the tiny town of Sultana, where I stacked boxes of fruit on pallets at an old wooden packing house a stone�s throw from an old-age home called The Haven of Rest. At the height of the season, we would work until late at night, after which I would rumble off on the dark country roads with the window down, a demented lone wolf beneath the stars, feeling wealthy because of the two dollars and thirty cents an hour I was earning, and with all manner of incredibly important and pressing nonsense on my mind.

Even then, I felt I was living inside a poem, and that the poem was unfolding on the road before me. When someone was with me, our conversation was rich with images: haunted, enchanted � crazy whispers, the joyous, childlike laughter of an avalanche. We shouted into the night, only to be hushed by its infinite black magnitude.

Where are we going, my friend?
How will we know when we arrive?
And will you still be there? Be here?

April 1, 2006

Previous Entry     Next Entry     Return to Songs and Letters     About the Author

Many of the poems on this site are available in print editions.
Main Page
Author�s Note
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Let�s Eat
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Flippantly Answered Questions

Top of Page