1976 Ford Escort 1.3cc, painted yellow

A gift from my father, my 18th birthday,
I hated her from the start.

But now, years later,
when rust nearly took her
from me,
I find that the possibility of losing her
makes my heart spasm.

She suits me,
a friend said.
I'm still not sure
what he means.

She's solidly built,
and even though the heater
hasn't worked in year,
and the fan drowns out
the radio,
she still starts up
every morning,
flat batteries aside.

When I first turn
the key in the ignition
the deep rumble of her
catches in my throat.
Sometimes I gun the engine
just to hear it again.

On days when the engine
gets too heated,
unable to budge her water cap.
I seduce men
to open her up for me.

I offer her
no shelter,
I slam the doors
(it's the only way)
and scared of the spider
in the boot
I leave the webs
alone.
But on good days
I sing her songs,
off-key and with the
wrong words
and I'll call that
love.


Postscript: Paula's 1976 Ford Escort 1.3cc painted yellow with alloy wheels and leather steering wheel, was stolen on the evening of Monday June 18 2001. She is missed.

Paula Harris

Published in Takahe 43
August 2001