Borrowing My Father’s Pickup (9 of 12, half marathon)

It’s a foreign country. I don’t speak the native tongue, recited as grease under the fingernails and steel-toe boots to work the pedals. Key’s got a tricky switch. Once it starts, there’s a guttural rev. More power than I have a need for, got nothing to haul in that big back bed. In the interior: weather mats on the floor, smooth from wear; they know their place, like the women in my father’s life, catching the rainwater from his shoes; an old rag in the middle console, actually a tank top he must have once worn over his now-tumored torso, and two clippers in the cupholder used to cut fishing line more often than any jagged hangnail. Fishing swivels jingle in the door, close at hand because who knows when he’d have a chance to cast out for the one that’s yet evaded him. Fold the seat forward; find his toolbox from which to pilfer a Phillips, along with a blue tarp to serve as a make-shift shower curtain in the near-to-him house I’ve just moved into. There’s a straight pole. Do I still remember how he taught me – to rig a line, bait a hook, avoid the craggy shore? Now beside his things is a stain where I placed the strawberries from Foodland. I didn’t wipe the blood that leaked from that delicate fruit; now the blemish has dried black, reminding me of everything that will rot and bruise when he’s gone.

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