“Cold as the moon,” he’d mutter
In the January of 5 A.M. and 15 below
As he tried to tease the old Chev into greeting
One more misanthropic morning.
It was an art (though he never
Used that curious word) as he thumped
The gas pedal and turned the key
So carefully while he held his breath
And waited for the sharp jounce
And roar of an engaged engine.
“Shoulda brought in the battery last night.”
“Shoulda got up around midnight
And turned it over once.”
It was always early rising as he’d worked
A lifetime “in every damn sort
Of damn factory.” Machines were
As natural to him as dogs and flowers.
A machine, as he put it, "was sensible.”
I was so stupid about valves and intakes
He thought I was some religious type.
How had I lived as long as I had
And remained so out of it?
And why had I moved of my own free will
To a place that prided itself
On the blunt misery of January?
“No way to live,” he’d say as he poked
A finger into the frozen throat
Of an unwilling carburetor.
His breath hung in the air
Like a white balloon.
Later on the way to the town where
We worked while the heater
Wheezed fitfully and the windshield
Showed indifference to the defroster
He’d tum to me and say that
The two best things in this world
Were hot coffee and winter sunrises.
The icy road beckoned to no one,
Snow began to drift down sleepily,
The peace of servitude sighed and dreamed.
"January" by Baron Wormser from Mulroney and Others. © Sarabande Books, 2000.