Poetry Archive

 

Big'O'Tires

Sara Cassidy

We're driving down to Vancouver after a lousy planting contract - hard ground, low prices - in Philips Arm. Philips Armpit, we've taken to calling it. Bushed for three weeks and now we're having it all: cold pop, chocolate bars, ice cream. I bought my first sunglasses ever at a gas station outside Port Hardy. “Wow,” breathed the clerk when I slid them on. “Farewell,” I coolly replied.

Clem and I hid under the sleeping bag in the back of Annette's van so we didn't have to pay for the ferry. I took Annette's picture on deck as we crossed the strait, the wind whipping her long, dark hair while she looked off into the distance as if something ought to be there.

We weren't back on the highway long when Annette started swearing. She pulls over, leaps out of her seat, gets down on her knees and studies the font tire on the passenger side. Muttering “fuck, fuck, fuck,” she pulls out an iron and tightens the lug nuts.

Back on the highway, she feels whatever it was again, starts smoking cigarette after cigarette. When she's halfway through one cigarette, she lights a fresh one. Clem and I don't feel a thing. Finally, she stops the van again, and strides angrily, anxiously, desperately, toward a highway crew laying tar. Clem and I watch the workers gather around her. She is gorgeous. She gesticulates architecturally, smokes tightly, runs her fingers through her hair.

“She's so European!” I sigh. The sign holder says he would help (open palms) but he can't leave his post. Clem is kicking at the tire, peering up at the chassis, suddenly inspired to solve this thing.

Annette returns less frantic, edgy with purpose. Four miles and several turn-offs later, we pull into Big'O'Tires. The yard is strung with flags and tinsel, car lot style, a promising metallic flutter against the blue sky.

The mechanics are polite, eager to help. Annette stands by as they hoist the van. Clem and I walk along the railway tracks behind the shop. We're moody. Clem walks off into a graveyard. I lay pennies on the track.

When we return, a mechanic is lowering the van. “Annette's out front,” he says. He's handsome.

On a patch of green I didn't see earlier, Annette is stretched out on a blanket, leisurely smoking a cigarette.

“The tread was worn right down,” she says, squinting up at us. “You could see the bulge sticking out. Would have blown right off if I'd kept driving on it.”

 

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Sara Cassidy is the author of the chapbook Ultrasound of My Heart (Reference West), whose writing has appeared in CV2, Qwerty, and Grain. She is a winner of the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia's 'Atlantic Writing Competition,' and has been a delegate to the BC Festival of the Arts 'Otherwords' colloquium. Greenboathouse published Sara's chapbook Sardines in 2001. Before her second child came along, Sara also published a bimonthly 'zine of local poetry called Bloom.

 

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