Under the Hood

Into the bulbous green Chevy,
one summer before I could walk,
my parents packed tuna fish
sandwiches, hard plastic luggage,
my brother, and me, and set out
from the maple lined streets
of New Jersey to my mother’s
home town in Nebraska. 
My parents had given the Chevy
a Ramapo Indian name, meaning
“swift warrior,” belying its limited

We made our way on black-tops
through small-town stoplights,
staying at roadside motels of stucco,
with linoleum floors, mended screens, 
and thin, funny-smelling towels. 
Progress was faster
than a wagon train, cradled by
the opening prairies, cornfields
and sky, while under the hood,
secured with a coat-hanger and
warmed by the engine block:
my bottle.

—Pam Lewis, Madison, WI