Roy Bentley Beautiful Plenty

At 30, my father drove a Cadillac in all weather.
Maple seeds spun down onto the wax job of a hood,
a black hood, black his preferred color in automobiles.
He owned two Cadillacs. His and hers. Both of which
he forfeited divorcing my mother, who saw not a cent.
When the divorce was final, he remarried. Had a child
with another woman. Said that wasn’t what he wanted,
another family. Some weekends, he came around. We’d
go on walks. I remember walking by the river in Dayton.
He said, You know five rivers converge here and named
four out of five by a botanical gardens gemmy with rain.
Then he said, That’s the Great Miami and looked off in
the direction of an orchard, the bright and unforgettable
scent of the ripe fruit the definition of Beautiful Plenty.
On a bank, a rotted boat sat. Someone said every boat,
new or old, is looking for a place to sink. And he said
something similar, my father, no fan of boats. Maybe
he supposed the one we saw was like their marriage:
as gone to rot and about useless as the oars to row it.
My parents were poor kids from eastern Kentucky
who spoke a language of want I wasn’t fluent in.
We never saw plenty again, thanks to him. It was
around that time my mother got a job in a factory.
Which must have pissed her off. Because she got
tough with the world and with herself. Tough and
satisfied because her face and Ava Gardner outline
glistened brighter than anyone with a beating heart
when she stood anywhere near that next car he kept
so immaculate you could see a version of yourself in
every shiny, midnight-black inch of fender and hood.
And when they got remarried, there was the matter
of the kid he’d had. Which she made him support,
though she wrote out the monthly checks herself
and stamped and mailed them. Just to be sure.


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