Pat Daneman, His Truck
She kept the payments up.
On the dashboard kept the Red Sox cap
as if he’d just forgotten it
and would be coming back
the minute the sun lowered
into his eyes. Kept his Navy duffel
on the seat beside her packed
with not much. Mornings
in new places—all those fresh blues
the sky could be, the rain
a different scent depending
on the time of day. She traced
the north coast in a week, salty plumes
of fog slanting off pine bluffs, rimed
yellow flowers. She lingered
in southern towns hemmed in
by tobacco fields—streets paved
with oyster shells, alleys fragrant
with cooking through open screens—
dough and meat taking their turns
in cast iron pans, burners ringing.
Everywhere she heard things
she never had—arguments at gas pumps,
hill birds calling to shore birds,
traffic thrumming on highways miles away.
She learned to sleep in unfamiliar beds,
drive into the sun without a map,
hold the road in storms—
torrents of rain trying to break
the windshield. She learned to change
a flat with a pen light in her teeth,
to ask for anything she wanted.
Author’s Comments: I drafted “His Truck” at the Port Townsend Writer’s Conference. One morning, I saw a pickup truck parked on the beach. I don’t know why I decided the driver was a woman, recently widowed, but that’s where my imagination went. I loved how the poem took her from grief to independence. Recently the poem became more meaningful to me when my husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He drives a silver convertible, but when I pull my car into the garage alongside his, sometimes I think of the woman I conjured in my poem and her journey.
Bio: Pat Daneman’s recent poems appear or are forthcoming in 10×3 plus, Red River Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Naugatuck River Review, and The Comstock Review. She lives in Lenexa, Kansas and is a poetry co-editor for Kansas City Voices magazine.