The Chains that Kept Me from Reaching You

What do you mean, the chains?

I mean the chains as in a link of chain
you’d hook bumper to bumper like the chain
Eddie hooked to the bumper of my Dodge
Colt when his pickup wouldn’t start,
and when the Colt rolled forward, suddenly
lunged, my driver door was open,
it got caught in a snowbank and bent so
the door wouldn’t close, that kind of chain.
A sunny day with snow all around. Eddie
felt bad my Colt door was bent. He sent
me to his friend Jim Brown, a mechanic
who, like Eddie, Eddie F, was a communist.

Who was Eddie, what was he like?

He had a full head of wavy blonde hair,
smoked Camel straights, owned a building
on a corner (it had been a dry cleaners),
where I worked upstairs as a director
for the Loft, a writers group. Eddie’s wife
Marley was on the board of directors.
He was older than I, he had two daughters
from a previous marriage. His laugh
was breathy, he had blue eyes, he liked
to laugh. He didn’t talk about politics
to me, we were often in his building at
the same time. Marley owned a bookstore.

What was Jim Brown like?

Short, older than Eddie, dark hair, a bit
chubby, he word glasses. In the small
office of his garage I sat in a swivel chair.
Margaret his wife wasn’t there that first
day, but was often there. They looked alike.
Denise stayed in the garage, like Jim
a mechanic, she was friendly. She knew
motors, was tall, slender, with long hair
she wore up. I spoke less with Denise
than with Jim and Margaret. All three
were pleasant, I never saw them out of
the shop/ garage, or with Eddie F.

What do you remember now?

The creak my door made when it pulled
against the snowbank, the creaking open
of a door you’d hear at the start of Inner
Sanctum, when it plays on old time radio.
From that day on, the gold Colt sported
a jagged rust streak, a vertical indent like
a lightning bolt where the front part of
the door meets the front of the driver’s side.
Denise too was married but her spouse
never came to the shop. I recall her in
garage shadows, and Eddie’s Marley
in her bookstore, her long black shawl.


Peter Mladinic’s fourth book of poems, Knives on a Table is available from Better Than Starbucks Publications. An animal rights advocate, he lives in Hobbs, New Mexico, USA.