The cars move, slowly. I watch them
through glass being born again, emerging
from the perfect rains, and I remember my father

washing his car in the driveway,
black ribbon of water running down
to the street, spray from the hose
bouncing off the hood, a momentary rainbow
hanging in the air.

And then I helped to wash, then washed it
on my own, then washed and waxed my car,
scrubbed the tires, even buffed them,
trying to make an old car new.
Water steamed off the asphalt slab
as summer opened up,
and I doused the boys on their Big Wheels
as they rumbled down the alley.

Here’s mine now, coming off the line.
I go to it, clean inside and out,
and begin once more to look both ways,
maintain a safe distance all around.
It will be hard when the first rain
leaves dirt behind or when winter
builds its encrustations, but I know

that through some good fortune,
deserved or not, I have a card
that guarantees me three Original Cleans,
a promise to redeem, opportunities to renew.

—Bart Galle, St. Paul, MN