Poetry

Econoline

By Allison Alder

’72 cargo van. V8
Captain’s chair. 8 Track
No power steering
$3000 obo

She walked up
Kicked my tires
Revved my engine
Thrust out her chin and offered $2600

Typical.
Bluster and bravado.
A woman out of her element.

But off we went:
Her cranking my wheel with obvious exertion
Me shuddering up the North Shore hills
First stop: Mt. Seymour Parkway
Stop
Engage E-brake
Fixate on the panorama of Vancouver
spread over the Fraser River delta
Tears on my steering wheel
Her father built this road
taught her to flag traffic
led her to believe men stuck around.

On down into the city, to an
odd shop: we’re camperizing!
She wants
cupboards, sink, stove,
table and chairs, and,
“…please if you don’t mind, raise the roof so
my kids can have top shelf bunk beds”
She trades her public relations talent for the re-do

Not so typical.
Dogged and adept.
A woman with a crackerjack family plan.

A new life takes shape
Only my ochre colour remains.
Weekends, I’m rolling
down the road:
one woman driver, mid-thirties
two kids, nine and eleven bouncing
on my newly installed bench seat
Kris Kristofferson wailing about
Sleeping city sidewalks
Cedar forests zooming past.

On Stave Lake’s shores, I fill up
with smoke: wet wood never burns well
They fry their sausages inside instead
chattering, carping, laughing.

That time at Alice Lake they
stayed inside the whole trip
Outside, clouds crashed
filled the narrow mountain valley
They learned to play cribbage that night
Thunder thrashing, treacherously
tumbling all night long
My roof a thin barrier to the elements.

Sun Valley was the longest trip
John Denver blaring…
Rocky Mountain High
I’ve seen it rainin’ fire in the sky
Ballads indelibly imprinted like
Highway 55’s twists through the Snake River Canyon
and every small town roadside gas pump:
White Bird, Cottonwood, New Meadows, Lake Fork
She drove on as the
road gyrated in effort to stay
true to its river lover

Brake

Crank

Accelerate

Brake

Crank

Accelerate

Every curve written in
the tiny muscles of her bursa and biceps
I fill up with Absorbine Junior fumes

Atypical.
Selfless and sublime.
A woman determined to build a normal life. Far surpassed.

Sometimes
At home
In the driveway, the kids
Snuck in and
Jammed my gears with their imp fists
Cranked up the 8 track and
Wearied my thin reserves.

She didn’t know they
did so only
to hold closer
the fleeting sense
of wheels rolling
on wet summer
pavement
sun setting
Carly Simon
crooning
as they passed full
campsite after full
campsite, never
really
wanting to end
what they became,
together, inside my walls
on those roads
driving into the night
fading light.
Econoline family.