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Poetry By
  Jason Kelly Richards

Published on: 4/1/2008
Mother Nature's Facilities

"There's less traffic and its cooler,"
Dad would claim were the reasons

He insisted we travel at night although it was obvious
His intent was that we kids would sleep the majority of the journey

And a silent back seat allowed him to enjoy
The music seeping quietly from a late night radio station

As he sipped safely in the darkness from a bottle
That always rode in the glove compartment

Dad rarely drove on our midnight excursions
He was usually in between driver's licenses

Therefore Mother was behind the wheel for most of my childhood
Until one of us kids was old enough to have the honor

Many nights I'd wake to the car stopped along a dark stretch
Of blacktop with the hood saluting the sky

Dad would claim to be checking the water, the oil or some fluid
An engine requires in order to functioning properly although I'm certain

No dashboard light had appeared signaling impending danger
Of excessive heat or immediate automotive failure

He was using the interstate outhouse, a phrase my mother despised
And after slamming the hood he'd always say

"Everything looks all right; we're good to go,"
As if the people in the passing cars could hear him

The minute he climbed back into the passenger seat
Mom and I would insist he repeat it a little louder

Just in case the boy in the back seat of the Buick that just passed
Or the couple in the approaching Oldsmobile didn't hear him

Dad would grin and reach for the glove compartment
Give Mom a sloppy kiss and spin the dial in search of a radio station

In those early moments before dawn
As we neared our destination I was certain

There was no wrong in the world
And as the first glimmer of sunlight cast a glare

Against the windshield I felt safe and secure
Surrounded by family unlike I would ever again

And now at night when I pass a car on the side of the road
With the hood up I grin and think of dad and wonder

If the man inspecting the engine is experiencing car trouble
Or stopping to use Mother Nature's facilities.

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