Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Starting the Subaru at Five Below

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Anyone who has had trouble starting the car on winter mornings in Maine will find encouragement in today?s poem by Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle.

Starting the Subaru at Five Below by Stuart Kestenbaum

After 6 Maine winters and 100,000 miles,
when I take it to be inspected
I search for gas stations where they
just say beep the horn and don?t ask me to
put in on the lift, exposing its soft
rusted underbelly. Inside is the record
of commuting: apple cores, a bag from
McDonald?s, crusted Dunkin? Donuts cups,
a flashlight that doesn?t work and one
that does, gas receipts blurred beyond
recognition. Finger tips numb, nose
hair frozen, I pump the accelerator
and turn the key. The battery cranks,
the engine gives 2 or 3 low groans and
starts. My God it starts. And unlike
my family in the house, the job I?m
headed towards, the poems in my briefcase,
the dreams I had last night, there is
no question about what makes sense.
White exhaust billowing from the tail pipe,
heater blowing, this car is going to
move me, it?s going to take me places.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2010 Stuart Kestenbaum. Reprinted from Maine in Four Seasons, Down East Books, 2010, by permission of Stuart Kestenbaum. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.