Instead of exchanging actual gifts, we wrote poems about trees.
The metaphors extended like plastic bags about to drop: his tree was naked and praiseworthy and obviously my body in the cold interior of his car; mine was bending under ice in a cemetery I loved, where he decided he loved to park his car.
You must understand: when the first snow fell thick on the roof of the parking garage, he pulled his coat sleeve down and used his arm to clear the windshield. I admired his determined touch, his pride in the maraschino, the horsepower indefensible to his wife. In that snow there were no tickets in the wiper blades, no napkins crumpled in the passenger seat. There was nothing to refuse to move, nothing except the booster seat.
I have elaborate daydreams about that car. Garage fires, crashes en route to ballet recitals. But my favorite is the repossessor: a ruthless man shows up to confiscate the car, my scent and fallen hairpins still in it. The car tilts onto a tow truck.
It occurs to him then that a gift would have been nice, a book or a scarf or a clearance-bin candle, but the car and truck are gone, and no one hears him yell from his house, which he will also lose.
Emily Kingery is an Assistant Professor of English at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where she teaches courses in literature, writing, and linguistics. She serves on the board of directors at the Midwest Writing Center, a non-profit organization that supports writers in the Quad Cities community.
Cover Photo by Anokarina (Flickr)