Scott Withiam

quickly became popular, then corrupted,
although corruption was the case right from the start, but hell, it was always good
to know that, no matter what, one readily had access to some beginning,
something like My best friends and I were high school seniors...
but if that was my case, none of my friends or I could afford cars. So we consumed,
instead, a lot of time with going nowhere
talk about the kind of car we would someday drive
or added in on a particular car racing through town that caught our eye.
Since I hailed from such an insignificant era, I found it necessary to posit that it was,
like its cars, big, powerful, a Dodge,
a Dart with a gas guzzling six pack, a Barracuda, a Cobra, a Sting Ray. They came stock,    
but one still longed to customize. As I was saying of memoir,
one critic said that the biggest engine under its hood
might be the preservation of human innocence. Dart,
six pack, Barracuda, bite, sting—innocent?
But I could add a baby blue Mercury Comet with white interior
that appeared on the heels of the time of big fins,
so that a Comet could rely on the mere suggestion of tail.
The Comet was not sleek or fast, as the god Mercury connoted.
Nor was it muscle-jumpy like mercury spilled on a floor.
It traveled straight as a comet. As far as memoir, it was practical,
something, we'd say, our grandparents drove.
Only if we were desperate, we might take it, if it was handed down to us,
and do something with it. Probably jack up the rear
end. Memoir. I don't believe that it even matters
that we were seniors in high school,
except that senior label bears an attachment
to a taste for freedom, to a walk uptown to buy our own lunch
rather than stay in the cafeteria and eat what we were told was balanced,
and we exercised that freedom by walking into the air-conditioned Clover Farm Market
for one or two miniature pies—cherry or chocolate
or lemon with flattened meringue tails. That would be where a group of us were heading
when we saw that baby blue Comet. It had wandered (or was it steered?)
into the oncoming lane and hit a rig head-on. So little commotion.
The Comet's hood was barely crimped; no radiator cloud rose
or water dripped into a pool. The truck driver's disbelief was our own.
He had come to a complete stop. They barely touched. How could they be dead?
That was the hardest part about memoir—it didn't look like it happened.
An old man's head was thrown back and his mouth was slack,
as if dozing in the surrounding muggy heat. Twisted toward him, his wife looked
to be doting, about to mention that he had missed some whiskers, there was a patch of
whiskers that he'd missed. That's all she wanted to say, that's all she wanted,
but we had to go back to school where we went on forever, it seemed, trying to come up
with something better.








I read very little memoir, so should not have written this poem or used the tone I did. But I did, and that's the past. I did, I think, to challenge my own penchant for memory and dwelling there. I did, at memoir's expense, and got some very interesting things to happen on the page, in the moment. "I do." "I do," say this happily married couple and live happily ever after, not "I did."