Old Transmissions

I miss the clutch in our old car, father’s hand
engulfing the round knob of the gear shift each morning
as he slipped us into the flow of traffic.
The groan of the car made it clear
changing gear took effort,
that inertia was best met
with steady step and gentle grip.

My mother doesn’t miss those days
struggling at the roundabout,
stalling on the long slope to city centre.
Her automatic starts and stops at will,
no fuss, no sound, without straining,
without the thoughtfulness of old transmissions.

 

 

 


 

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Oh, my long-lost cousin!

I had lunch with a long-lost cousin;
we both ordered salmon
and steaks for our mums:
two sisters sat across two near-sisters,
each unspooling a thread
from common memory.

She told the story
of our grandfather, the traveler;
we spoke of the departed,
and heaven on earth.
The storyteller swapped when plates were brought
and the stories were stoked by heat from the hearth.

Hours later, our mothers fed and happy,
we leaned closer and whispered to each other.
“You look exactly the same,”
I spoke from the heart.
The lines of her face hadn’t changed, but were cleaner,
a jewel crystallizing while we were apart.

“Oh, my lost-long cousin!” she said,
in her throat was a laugh,
in her eyes was a spark;
In my self I sensed two wires reaching,
latching, catching,
jump-starting the car.