Because my car is twenty years old
and the gizmo that goes ding ding ding
when you leave the lights on
has been busted for at least a decade,
I’m always contending with a comatose battery.
Always approaching strangers to ask for a jump
in the Trader Joe’s parking lot
or on a deserted street in the growing dark,
where a man in a python-green Porsche
affixed the red and black alligator clamps confidently
yet incorrectly, killing the thing altogether,
resulting in a 10 PM call to AAA,
an hours-long wait in a 7-Eleven,
and a midnight ride sitting in the cab
of a tow truck whose driver had just been dumped
by his wife of eleven years.
These are the adventures you may have
if you tend to leave your lights on, as I do,
at dusk when the light is tricky — the hour
between dog and wolf, the French call it,
when the distracted mind is too full of shadows
to remember what the body did just moments ago.
By now I’m an old hand at setting up cables,
fitting black to minus, red to plus,
but I’ll never get over the small miracle
of how fast it all works, the spark arcing
quicker than thought
as soon as a benefactor turns their ignition switch;
my own car springing to life again
like Sleeping Beauty after just the right kiss;
the way a smile will ricochet from a stranger’s face
to my own, or one kind word retrieve
a flailing soul from the abyss.