Where the Pontiac Broke Down
No combination of car door,
rolled up window, tire iron was safety.
South of the mailboxes, the boxelder tree,
the box truck now half empty,
there is no justice but a broken bottle
beneath the slip and slide.
Maybe this is why Momma took us to church,
barretted our hair on the porch Daddy built
using the hand he did not slice open
with the posthole digger,
had us sing Nahum, Habakkuk, Micah, Amos,
until we could find chapter and verse
faster than God.
When summer came, when uncles gathered by the river,
Momma held us to her thigh as warning,
as if to say, touch them
and you will not touch another:
another PBR, another paper plate
full of summer sausage, potato salad,
as if to say, you are not my brothers
but a fire I intend to put out.
Maybe this is why Pentecost
is the cruelest month:
revival songs, one-pieces, an eight-fingered man
who sells fireworks from a tow-trailer.
Maybe this is why Momma
won’t drink from the cup,
crosses her arms over her heart
during the blessing.
Maybe this is why this is my body
is the only prayer Momma ever believed.about the author