Margin: Exploring Modern Magical Realism

PRAYER RIDING OUT OF DETROIT
m a r y   e l i z a b e t h   p a r k e r

Big, big car, big blue fish, midnight-blue smile chromeful of teeth,
flash in a way the girl behind the dash is not, takes the curves curled
like a muscle flexing, like a man sprawled deep

in a livingroom divan, like all her hopes for fine-etched glass,
for crystal pinging and the swirl of dark hues
in the cloaks of Old Masters. Car like a big plate

with all the meal she'd want, hood heavy as meat,
and the wire wheels shining like sugar stars,
whitewalls spinning like cream in a cup.

Car so big her whole self is tucked up in it --
her lost years clamped safe in a wheel well,
snug in tiny boxes like extra keys

to a house she might want to creep back to
some night when she feels large.
Like a big cat that ate up the little bug, the car

eats up the little bald-head girl whose nails are buffed now,
but who remembers biting to the quick
on small nights in the small house with Papa's voice rising --

angry then but blessing her now.
I will lay it out for you, build it, open its doors.
Sitting up under weak lights to toggle bits together

from spare nuts and bolts, from Baba Yaga yowling
and huge looming ducks with cigars, I'll build
the blue cave in which a girl can disappear

and, like a dust of lace fallen from an expensive sky,
will pass my blessing over your upturned face --
this peace of a kingdom on wheels, slow bullet

unassailable, its flight the furled urgent glide
of a heron over the night lake --
will make you safe inside this haven like a bug in a nut,

like a voice that doesn't have to voice anymore, but just ride
inside this rolling real estate, no neighborhood now
into which you cannot assert this steel car.

From The Sex Girl, 1999 ~ publisher Urthona Press, Asheville, NC

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Rev'd 2003/04/06