My father takes a job at Pep Boys. His
long artist fingers blacken with motor
oil, stain the white keys of his piano,
darken the navels of his orange tree’s fruits.
He checks the oil under the blue hood of
his brown Datsun. His basset hound, Tilly,
licks our fingers glued with sweat and sugar
to the vinyl seats. His wife’s hair, once past
her waist, bobs short in the California
sun. In Minnesota, he says, orange trees
would die, they would freeze to death. My mother
can’t take her eyes off the sunset, even
when it has long escaped the horizon.
My father tightens his seatbelt. This, he
says, is a learning experience. “Hit
it,” he says and whiteness billows around
us as we spin and spin like we’re falling.
We look at the spiral tracks from my car
in the fresh snow of an empty K-Mart
parking lot—tracks in the shape of a heart.
The U-Haul heaves in exhasperation.
My father tells me to lift with my legs.
There’s a grey in his hair I have not seen
before and his things look strange without my
mother’s, his quiet suits lonely. He’ll call,
he says, when he gets settled in New York.
My father borrows my MetroCard to
take the train back home. He is worried there
are no cabs, no cars in my neighborhood.
He has been east, but never so far east
into Brooklyn. He says that one day he
will meet me as far out east as Montaulk.