Carole Coates

FALLING IN LOVE WITH THE AA MAN (AND HOW HE TAUGHT ME TO LOVE MY CAR)

Treat her like a friend, said one of the Sons of Morning
leaping from his useful crammed van

in a landscape flat as soup in a grey dish
twilight the A15 North Lincolnshire,

found nothing wrong with my stalled and silent car
and said that she – not it but she – knew I had plans

to change the car and was upset, understandably.
I should be more careful of the car's feelings

and has she got a name? I didn't like to mention
my plan to call it “Catsmeat Potter Pirbright”

Oh yes, I lied, her name is Daffodil
my first and only yellow car – it matched his coat.

So many of them, so many different places:
the back-end of Wembley when I followed a bus

after a Pet Shop Boys gig and got a flat tyre
which a gentle AA giant changed in twelve minutes;

the M62 at midnight one cold November
with passing headlights flashing and drivers hooting

and that heart-melting yellow, hyperreal in the dark -
how he hoisted my third car Pomegranate

onto the back of his lorry, gave me a Twix bar and coffee
and drove us both east over the mountains to Hull,

the old textile towns glinting below and a sour thin moon.
You must love your car he said and so I always have.

Stolid like Barney McGrew and radiant as Blake's Urizen
the sun should always rise behind them pink as fingers -

those men who showed me how to love my cars,
Daffodil, Terracotta, Pomegranate, Russet and good old Red.

But oh my Rosebud, my Sancho Panza, my little Renault 5
comrade, companion, friend for when the going was good -

leaving the Oxford Road at dawn to breakfast among fountains
dodging the lorries overturned like children's toys on Shap,

together we saw that UFO on a May evening over Rydal
together we crawled round Snake Pass, over Snowdonia.

Dear Rosebud you broke down only outside country pubs
until the day your engine fell out and we coasted down

to what was the end of the road for you, and the AA man
broke it to me in a kindly way. They are all kindly men

especially the one who found my old cat Roger
but that is another story

 

 

TALKING TO JOHN

after you died the ..silence came

..............................which was seemly ...which was fitting

people mourn ...stand aloof apart

..............................gaps between them where distance grows

and white light fills ...separates us

..............................our few words shadows in the air

we are too far away to hear

..............................the quiet falls like snow... piles up

each day is the same day

..............................the day after you died

we will not leave you behind

..............................and time has come to a stop

the sky has banished all clouds

..............................air resting after great turmoil

in this aftermath... this ending

..............................still ...as the white flesh of lilies

this silence is less absolute than yours

though I sit at your desk waiting for you to speak

 

from

When the Swimming Pool Fell in the Sea

©CaroleCoates2021

The poems on these pages are the intellectual property of the author and may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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Last updated 29 May 2021