Where the Pontiac Broke Down

Sarah Carson

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.

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