The Dodge Silver Hawk
by Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Dennis talks about the Dodge Silver Hawk his father bought when he was a teenager,
a very cool car for a middle-aged man, light blue and silver. When Dennis shows
a picture of it to his boyhood friend, their eyes light up as they talk about it.
Dick says, Your father let you drive that car. My father never let me drive his car.
He told me to go out to work to earn the money to buy my own car.
In the old album, the car is parked in the driveway of the white colonial in River Edge.
It gleams with its sharp edges and polished chrome. I dated Dick first and met Dennis
at Dick's house. I stopped seeing anyone in the room once Dennis came in
and took out his guitar and sang. By the time I met Dennis, the Silver Hawk
was only a shining memory, a light in Dennis's eyes when he talks about it, even now,
thirty years later. When I met him, he was driving a black Pontiac with dark brown tweed
upholstery torn in spots and a narrow windshield and side windows with little flaps
that opened to let the wind cool your face. In that car, we parked on the Palisades
and looked at the lights of New York across the Hudson before we necked
and petted and French kissed, until we both were in a frenzy of unfulfilled lust.
He drove me home with his arm around me. I sat as close to him as I could.
This was the early sixties and nice Catholic girls did not go all the way; though
my Italian blood was not into denial of the flesh and if he had asked me,
I would have resisted and then given in, but he was a nice Catholic boy
and he respected me. I couldn't break out of the cast of rules that kept me
acting the way I thought I should, afraid of getting pregnant, of having
a policeman shine his light on us, on my unbuttoned blouse, my unsnapped bra,
the heat in my body, the steamed up windows of his car, the other cars lined up
in a row on that dark lookout. On our wedding day, my father rented a limousine for us.
After we were married, the photographer asked us to look out the back window of the limo
so he could take our picture. It is that picture I think of first when I think of us,
that girl and boy, so young and unknowing, looking toward a future they have no way
of imagining, just as I look at the young woman walking toward me, who has taken her child
to the bus and who reminds me of myself at her age. Perhaps it is the spring in her step
that makes me remember mornings when in half-light we made love before I got dressed
to walk the children to school, my happiness in the way I walked and the half smile
I never could erase from my face. Today seeing her and remembering, I realize
this is what Dennis and Dick feel when they speak of the Silver Hawk
and the shining they recapture for a moment before it too vanishes like all time
that passes through our fingers elusive as fog.
Maria Mazziotti Gillan was the founder and Executive Director of the Poetry Center at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ, and the editor of The Paterson Literary Review. She has written seven books of poetry and edited, with her daughter Jennifer Gillan, three multicultural anthologies published by Penguin Putnam. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Prairie Schooner, Poetry Ireland, The New York Times, The Connecticut Review, and Rattle.