A car stops moving, we sell it for parts. Doesn’t matter the chipped driver side handle, the duct tape passing smog tests. I drove it for another thousand miles after the check engine light burned out, drove it up to Philo, parked at the road house, ordered the pineapple fried rice, extra vegetables. Not up to your standards, or mom’s, but someone has to go on. Didn’t expect this to become parenthetical, was just checking in, but we shift ourselves from frame to frame and at nighttime drop the mirror, rearview a tight curve, a mountain, a deed linking my name, yours. Mechanic says not worth fixing so I found another one. Don’t make them like this anymore. Stalled off ninety-nine near Mariposa and I pushed it until the radio came back on, played Madonna like an anthem. I’m naming all these places so you know where we’ve been, where you’ve wanted to go, and holding on is easy. I make lists, count signposts, learn landmarks, and when the air conditioner comes on, I allow a little prayer, bleed it out until its ready. Shouldn’t have fought so hard, wasn’t good in the thunder, trembling, but maybe one last night, and I can’t think of a better way to go, next to you like a shape in the sky, mist then cloud then star through a dappled windshield.
Karthik Sethuraman is an Indian-American living in California. His works have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Lunch Ticket, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Fugue, among others. One piece, Saramakavi, was performed at the Asian Art Museum where he was a Kearny Street Workshop writing fellow. His chapbook, Prayer under eyelids, is forthcoming from Nomadic Press. In addition to English language poetry, he spends time reading and translating from the broader Tamil diaspora.