A Truck to Remember

When I was just past thirty,  I wrote a poem about my father. It took an Honorable Mention in a contest sponsored by The MacGuffin literary journal and judged by Diane Wakoski.  I gave him a copy of the journal after it was published, and he acted like he always did when he didn’t know if he was being subtly criticized or if he should be flattered. I told him to be flattered.

“Little old ladies” (his term) always loved my father. And I think that’s how he found some of his treasures. Maybe that is where my trunk came from, now that I think of it!

A Scout Truck Grows Older

 

The only time my father did not bury

himself with obsolete and imperfect things–

rice-paper widows with old iceboxes and documents

to give away to someone who cherished them

for their age–was when he loved a ‘sixty-four

gray-green Scout, still toddler-new and shiny.

I took this as an omen of better times;

not knowing he wanted to see the decay of beauty.

 

My father and I travelled long and alone

in that truck that was not really a truck–

no caked mud flaps, corroded door frames,

three-year-old garbage under cab seats.

In January he cranked its heavy plow,

flexing the biceps of the Scout’s compact body.

It whined and startled from the weight

of Kalamazoo’s heavy winter, my father

pushing it on and on way into dark.

 

That summer he steered us bouncing across

the spongy edge of Long Lake, passing closest

when breath-near the bottomless drop-off.

I imagined the truck tipping and me

with no orange life jacket to endure

the cold whirlpool, those obsidian depths.

But we spun on, tilting, along that damp sand,

crushing the last fishtail-smelly driftwood

and snail shells that lake would ever spew out.

 

The Scout began aging–coughing and slowing.

When it held enough soiled shirts and rusty tools–

things not new, too common to call antiques–

I was too grownup to dress in boy clothes

and pretend to be my father’s son, loving

the feel of destruction beneath our wheels.

The MacGuffin 5.3 (1988): 18

I couldn’t find an old photograph of the truck. I realized I don’t have many photos of those years.

I’m not sure if my dad’s truck was #1 or #3 in the ad. I remember running away and getting out to the garage and seeing the Scout sitting there. The world looked exhausting from the garage, so I hauled my little laundry bag of clothes into the truck and fell asleep.

 

 

 

42 Comments

Filed under #AmWriting, Family history, Literary Journals, Memoir, Nonfiction, Poetry, Publishing, Writing, Writing contest

42 responses to “A Truck to Remember

  1. And he should be flattered. Wonderful memory.

  2. Wow–beautiful, Luanne.

    I hope your father did like the poem. It’s funny that you posted this now. I just found a newspaper article about my dad and his antique business (that he was selling after many years) among some photos at my mom’s. I just sent it to my siblings and kids last night.

    • Merril, thank you! I hope he did. It was hard to tell because he was a little suspicious of poetry haha.
      Oh, what a wonderful find. And what an amazing business for you to grow up in??? Do you know a lot about antiques? I’d love to see the article!

      • Funny that your dad was suspicious of poetry. 🙂
        No, I really don’t know about antiques. I grew up with some lovely furniture and other items. My dad sold the business after my parents divorced when I was in 7th grade. Then he ended-up going back to college (art history) and going through to get his Ph.D. in history.

  3. Wonderful poem. A piece of your father you’ll always have.

    • It’s true, Carrie. Although I wrote this poem so many years ago and didn’t even put it in my book, I’ll never forget it because it feels very close to my heart–I’ve had a scene in my memoir draft that relates to it, too, although I’m not sure if it will stay. If it doesn’t, I’ll turn it into a short piece.

  4. Happy little scout, working it’s heart out.

  5. I simply adore this, Luanne.

  6. What fun- loved the truck line-up (line down, actually). Thanks!

  7. How wonderful to have immortalized your dad and his old truck in this way. Such beautiful memories, Luanne.

    • Thanks, Susanne. It’s amazing how many more positive memories I discover than what I thought I held. My mother is coming tomorrow for almost two months. It’ll be good to have time with her.

  8. This is a great opening yo your memoir. Too bad no cats rode along or you could include it with the shelter cats poetry. Maybe an imaginary cat riding along who escaped from the shelter. Imagination could play a part in Scout the trucks taking “hitchiker cats.” 🙂
    I am a little tired or “punch drunk” without the alcohol, Luanne. ♡

    • I am chuckling pretty hard here, Ms. Robin. The only pets I had at this time were two turtles. They were pretty cute as they were tiny. We didn’t get our dog for another year or two. And my cat had been carted off to a new home a year or two before this time period.

      • Well, glad I finally found a post comment that left the reader laughing! 🙂 Luanne, you are such a genteel lady, visiting when I got so easily way laid over holidays. I admire your focus and continued ability to touch bases. Thank you, sincerely. Hugs, Robin xo

  9. Beautiful. You bring the Scout and your Dad to life in your poetry.

  10. This is s lovely, Luanne. I’m sure your father was very flattered 😀

  11. Beautiful poem and tribute to your dad. I love how you associate the memory of him with the Scout. Lovely!

  12. I love this Luanne, wonderful memories captured in such an evocative way.

  13. Wonderful memories, wonderful poem… xoxo

  14. It’s so cool how physical objects bring memories into life so that they are almost physical as well. I love this ode to a truck, and to your dad, and to your child self. I can see why it won a prize.

  15. Oops I hit reply too soon. I was going to say the way you described him reacting to the poem is so accurate for how everyone I’ve ever shown a poem to reacts!

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