It's a wild March morning in Chicago, the wind
dragging its nets through the streets.
Trawling for its usual and plentiful treasures:
crushed styrofoam cups, torn newspapers,
lost gloves, a blizzard of fast food napkins.
I take my eight-year-old Toyota
through the car wash. Idling in neutral,
I ease past the powerful, shaggy brushes,
the nozzles spraying limp foam onto the hood,
and remember the sick excitement I felt
when my father took my sisters and me through,
all the windows of our '67 baby blue Valiant
tightly cranked, the antenna pushed into its sleeve,
our doors locked against who-knows-what,
the three of us with our identical haircuts
buckled into the back seat, our identical shoes
drumming the vinyl. I was sure
those huge blue brushes would crash
right through the windshield and pin us to our seats.
At eight, a child sure of impending danger this
was about all the thrill I could handle.
I pull out of the car wash into the tangle
of traffic, past the bars that open at nine in the morning
and stay open, past the disheveled and pacing junkies,
past the crumbling theater draped in shadow and disrepair,
and make slow headway against the wind
that gathers the stray grocery bags all over the city,
whipping them against the masts
of budding hawthorns, silver maples,
bald cypress, green ash, green ash.