An old poem of mine (circa 1992)

Spring, 1989

Under my toe, in front of the accelerator pedal
there’s a newspaper with an article about the fall of the Berlin Wall
and I’m taking my car to have its oil changed
at the quick oil change place which is next to the old shopping center, which is next to the new shopping center
at the edge of town.

I’m filling out the form, and I say it’s a 1970 Plymouth Valiant.
“That car is older than I am!” says the girl behind the counter.

I’m sitting in the waiting room, and next to the pot of free coffee that’s been on the burner too long, there’s a stack of books for sale, many copies of the same book, and it’s called “Chronicle of the 20th Century”, even though the 20th century isn’t over yet, and it’s marked down.

And I ask myself, how can there be a book called “Chronicle of the 20th Century” when the 20th century isn’t over yet. Then I remember, there was someone in the news recently who said this was the End of History. Maybe that’s the reason.

Finally the car is ready. I put my coffee cup into the free litter bag they hung on the knob of the radio that doesn’t work, and I put my credit card receipt in there too. I start the car with the broken key. It still works because the other half of the key is still in the lock.

And maybe history has ended, maybe they’re burying the century before it’s dead, discounting it. But a 1970 Plymouth Valiant keeps on going forever. Even though the odometer turned over a long time ago.

by Erik Nelson, 1992

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~ by eriknonesuchnelson on September 20, 2008.

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