Claire Massey: Driver Side Window


Southern Legitimacy Statement: My grandparents’ Mississippi home was my port in a storm. There was literal nourishment (oh, that gumbo and cornbread!) as well as literary food for a budding creative. No matter the subject, their bookshelves were open. There was even a ghost on the property. No one was afraid to discuss him. Eventually I re-homed, first in Tennessee, finally in Florida. Wherever I’ve lived, my bookshelves were stocked with this Mississippi legacy–Faulkner and Wright, Welty and Trethewey, Hannah and Tartt.

Driver Side Window

A poem for my estranged sisters

Penned in the surly, cantankerous Chevy
where the backseat of childhood was beltless,
fogged windows stuck
in half-mast position,
we shoved and kicked, spat
the same fighting words our parents did,
took it out on each other, tangled
flailing limbs in the failed intentions
of beach towels touting Disney princesses
and blankets meant for mythical picnics.

How good it felt to gift myself at age nineteen
with a Toyota I could trust and then, a Subaru,
for turning twenty-seven and a big-hearted, even-tempered
Volvo, upon the banner year of forty.
From the vantage point of reinforced windshield,
the shatterproof driver side window,
I travel vistas I choose.

Lost sisters: Let me recommend
a reliable vehicle. Seating is roomy, steering responsive,
GPS built-in, safety glass dense yet clear.
It defrosts at the push of a button.