On Recollecting Our Parents In Tranquility: A Life Poem

Image of Roy Bentley's parents

As Much Ours as Not Ours

is an exhumation story my mother and I enjoy together,
a tale of my father’s unending prodigality regarding cars,
new and used, a passion, which she says kept them broke.
“And you went through the world shoeless,” my father says.
Prodded like this, he can defend the logic of his acquisitions
for hours. He leans in a doorway between the house and pool,
a Florida shirt blooming white blue red above his khaki shorts.
She is dealing a hand of solitaire, snapping the King of Hearts
between lines of cards I can’t make out from where I’m sitting.

They’re in their 60s. Happy as they will ever get, winter
breezes rippling the surface of one end of the pool. Waves
rebound beneath an enclosure curtained with bougainvillea.
The story of swapping a Mercury station wagon for a Cadillac,
the Cadillac for a ‘61 Impala with a shot-to-shit water pump,
has her glancing up to say I hated the Cadillac then smiling—
it’s Christmas—before snapping the next card, low to high.
Outside, bugs try the kingdom between nothing and light,
the ragged volley of trials aglow in his, and her, laughter.

Roy Bentley About Roy Bentley

Roy Bentley is the author of Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama Press), Any One Man (Bottom Dog Books), The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine Press), and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House Press). A new book, Walking with Eve in the Loved City, has been selected by Billy Collins as a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize and will be publlshed in the spring of 2018 by the University of Arkansas Press. Work from that collection has appeared in Shenandoah, Pleiades, Rattle, Blackbird, The Southern Review, and elsewhere.

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