Starting the Subaru At 5 Below

Jan 12, 2017

Usually in this series I've read poems by poets other than myself, but because today we donated our Subaru to Maine Public Radio (it had 173,173 miles – a luck lottery number, I would think), I wanted to read this poem I had written a while ago, not about that Subaru, but about another Subaru that had a long and fruitful life.  

Starting the Subaru At 5 Below
by Stuart Kestenbaum

After 6 Maine winters and 100,000 miles,
when I take it to be inspected

I search for gas stations where they
just say beep the horn and don't ask me to

put it on the lift, exposing its soft
rusted underbelly. Inside is the record

of commuting: apple cores, a bag from
McDonald's, crushed Dunkin' Donuts cups,

A flashlight that doesn't work and one
That does, gas receipts blurred beyond

recognition. Finger tips numb, nose
hair frozen, I pump the accelerator

and turn the key. The battery cranks,
the engine gives 2 or 3 low groans and

starts. My God it starts. And unlike
my family in the house, the job I'm

headed towards, the poems in my briefcase,
the dreams I had last night, there is

no question about what makes sense.
White exhaust billowing from the tail pipe,

Heater blowing, this car is going to
move me, it's going to take me places.

Reprinted with permisson from the author.