The Getaway Car
–for my niece on her first birthday
Look, little hellraiser, I am not known for my natural way
with children. I’ve had to learn a lot since last October.
I thought your teeth came in too early, for example,
but it appears that you know best. You also know
my brother better than I ever did—when you’re ready
I hope you will teach me your magic, how you transformed
my baby brother (who loved to chuck toy planes at our ceiling fan)
into your protective father. But today is your birthday, Fiona, and I am
meant to be giving you gifts! Your dad is no doubt expecting
Baby’s First Book of Suffragettes or a cherry red pocket knife
made for little hands. I want to believe I have something else
to pull from behind your ear, a tarnished copper piece
of wisdom I could never tell my brother. Just for us girls.
Today that task is beyond me, but here is what I can offer you:
when you collude with the moon and decide it is time to ask
a question, any question, my answer will be yes. Need help
conquering your very first unconquerable mistake? Yes,
I’ve untied my share of knots. Watch my hands. Are you ready
to make a little mischief, something to make your diary
worth hiding? I have ideas. (It is not safe to discuss them here.)
Eager to pierce whatever women are piercing in 2035?
Yes, I will know just the place—but dream bigger than that, Fi.
Get creative. Make me sweat a little. Lose a night’s sleep
over the heft of your request. If you are anything like me,
you will find yourself in need of a getaway car. Ask me. Now,
go eat your celebratory peas. Please also find enclosed
a photo of your father when he was your age, a tin can
with 1,700 miles of string, and, why not, a pocket knife. Red.
Erica Reid lives in Fort Collins, Colorado; she earned her MFA at Western Colorado
University (‘22) and serves as assistant editor at THINK Journal. In 2022 she was
nominated for Best New Poets; in 2021 her poetry won the Yellowwood Poetry Prize
and the Helen Schaible Sonnet Contest (Modern Sonnets category), was nominated
for a Pushcart Prize, and was commissioned by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.