The best place in the world
was inside the hot vinyl belly
of a big, blue ’62 Chevy Bel Air.
Wedged in tight with Nancy,
squished between JeanandMary
who got dibs on window seats.
Dad was always behind the wheel,
KenandMike curled next to Mom.
Let’s make it late July twilight in 1963
coming home from fishing in Paullina,
where the kids jumped off a slimy dock,
caught bullheads and ate burnt hot dogs.
Let slides of stars wash across navy sky
through car windows cranked open wide
while car wheels shimmy and swerve
over dips and bumps on gravel roads.
Let Dad begin singing “Moon River”
in an aching tenor that the girls repeat.
And make sure the youngest nod off
in a woven nest of blood and bones.
Of course, let there be poking, pinching,
jealousies, desire and unspoken fears
because the best place in the world
was always a heart-breaking ride.
“Moon River” is still one of my favorite old songs because we used to sing it in the car. So maybe it’s sentimental rot, maybe the bickering won out, but it’s nice to remember those perfect childhood moments.