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Alethea Black

Honorable Mention 2007 Novice Christian Poetry Contest $50

About this Christian Poet:
Alethea Black was born in Boston and graduated from Harvard College in 1991. Her father was a mathematician, and for a long time she believed her name, the Greek word for truth, was his way of tipping his cap to the idea of absolutes. Then one day her mother overheard her and said, “No, we got your name from a TV show.” (Judd, for the Defense.) Her fiction has appeared in Inkwell, the Antioch Review, and is forthcoming in the North American Review. These are her first published poems.

“Car Ride, 1979” is my personal favorite of my poems. For a couple years, my sisters and I went to a private school in Cambridge, Mass., and our father would drive us in on his way to work at MIT. He died in 1995, but there is a stretch of Route 2 that has always been extremely nostalgic for me, especially on overcast days. I was glad to finally be able to capture it in a poem.

Car Ride, 1979

Early morning, and the sky and pavement are both gray and wet, but inside our car it is warm and dry in such a way it almost seems to
glow with light, at least in memory.

Outside, other cars sizzle past us on the rain-drenched street; the world is motion. But you possess the stillness that does not change; even when you switch on the classical station, time does not break, but remains smooth all around you.

Your long-fingered hands rest so delicately against the wheel, it’s
almost as if you’re not really driving. And in truth, you’re
not. You’re roaming over an equation, over and across and back again, in figure-eights.

I am in the back seat. I am ten. But you seem to have forgotten
I am here. And yet, a part of you knows—the secret part—and the air
knows, and through this air I feel something bleeding into me like ink bleeds into cloth.

You speak to me now only in dreams, this same scene pulling me like the pavement pulled the rain. Only in dreams, beneath the wipers’ rhythmic thumping, I have found the courage to whisper: Father, what is it you’re trying to tell me?

Copyright ©2007 by Alethea Black