The Birdhouse, Or by Jamie Dopp

The Birdhouse, Or
Victoria: Ekstasis Press,
2002. 106 pages.

Ed's Red Car

Has a black dashboard split open
by the sun. The driver's side window
is sealed shut with duct tape,
red, as it turns out, a lucky
match (it's what I had on hand).
More tape covers the holes where

the rear reflectors used to be.
The engine on Ed's red car starts
hot or cold but not in between.
It also has a leaky gasket
(when you open the hood you can see
the mess, a black skin creeping

down the engine block). When I asked
the guy at the garage if it was
worth fixing, he took a step back,
squinted his eyes and said:
"Just remember. Oil is cheap."
There are two kid seats in

Ed's red car. Generally a shoe
or two. Crushed bread stick. Sometimes
a dead sea creature in a plastic pail.
The paint job is pretty well gone,
it has that bleached out look
old cars get in climates where

things don't rust. But how the car
shines when we wash it, when I roll it
through the gate onto our front lawn
and Benjamin soaps the wheels
and Stephen lurches unsteadily
with the hose. We washed it like this

the day before Ed died. I remember
hoping he could see us, propped up
on his porch across the street.
Probably not. He was on extra morphine then
and in and out of consciousness.
Even so I cheered on the boys

and we worked our rags until the car
gleamed in the July sun, Ed's
red car, its creaks and smells
and impervious stubborn mystery,
radiant as a human body
viewed in the light of love.