Chase Twichell

1950 / Connecticut / United States

Joyride

Two aides get Dad in the car
on the second try.
He meddles with his seat belt,
pats the dash, rubs his hands
as if putting on lotion.
The old farms excite him,
so I drive out past
dazed herds of condos
to where big tractors
are spreading manure,
moving hay.
Before his eyes drift
cows hock-deep in mud,
a man scraping a house,
all of it passing
at thirty miles an hour,
alpacas and merino sheep
prized for their wool,
ruined silo,
bird dog crossing the road,
woman looking up
from planting a tree.
I say I once drove past
a field of camels in Vermont.
He starts to tell a similar story
but none comes to mind.

When we were kids he'd fishtail
up the twisty road to East Rock Park,
throwing gravel, making crash sounds,
heading straight for the tree.
At the top: a monument
to war-dead disgraced by graffiti.
At night, teenagers parked
their cars by the stone tower
(he never said why).
Someone had drawn a penis
on the plaque of names,
the war-dead who lay
inside the monument,
in their grave.

The same aides stand by,
but Dad won't get out of the car.
He's headed back to his childhood,
which lives on in a few souls,
his daughters,
but they come once a week,
and no one else knows the way.
When they muscle him
back into the wheelchair,
he stabs with weak elbows,
canine yelp.
The doors open inward
toward the aquarium,
clear tubes forcing bubbles
from a ship wrecked on lurid gravel.
He likes to park close to the
pump and filter's white noise.
I tell him I'll see him next week.
He says, give me ten minutes to pack.
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