this was before i was born but i’ve heard a lot about it and i know
that all you ever wanted was that mercedes-benz
glittering atop a pile of night shifts driving around the airport and
empty liquor bottles like your hungarian-canadian version
of the american dream. ‘that car’s not built,’ you’d say,
‘it’s engineered,’ and you’d probably take another drink.
fifty years since you married
your coming-to-canada sweetheart, met her on
the boat here and started your (shotgun) life, and my uncle drove that car
from california or arizona or wherever he’d found it by accident during
his fiftieth birthday road trip with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window
and you threw the keys back and told him to drive it away and before
the engine ignited you were gone. that’s how it always is,
whether behind filmy eyes or the wine on your breath or
the harsh corners of your voice through an accent
i can’t always understand, you’re hiding, gone before anybody can get a grasp.
men like you aren’t built, they’re engineered, and i know your little sister
couldn’t keep anything down until she died and i know your parents
sent your dog away somewhere bad and i know
somewhere underneath years of sitting in the same chair drinking
your homemade wine that looks and smells
like gasoline from old 7-up bottles is someone i’ll never meet.
your teeth are falling out now and i don’t know if or when i will see you again
but what i’ll remember most about you is how you used to yell at me
in a dizzy mix of english and hungarian when i coloured outside the lines.