George Lober

My Father's Coup de Ville

For nine days my father's Coup de Ville
ran at thirty-two breaths per minute;

long enough, it turns out for my brothers
and me to drive it through Hell

with the top down, learning
to like each other in the process;

long enough to learn the smell
of hospital hallways and the names

of ICU nurses at night, the rhythm
of a ventilator lifting his lungs

like dry dune grass, long enough
to trust each other at midnight

driving over the coastal range,
breathing redwood air, the yellow glare

of hospital parking lots at three a.m.;
to understand the numbers shifting

like flames on monitors beside his face;
to sit on a curb watching the sun rise

over foothills of San Jose; laughing
over bad coffee and fresh doughnuts

in the same clothes we wore yesterday
and the day before that; long enough

to consider the possibility that behind
the drive, the old man's purpose

was always us, before he yawned
twice in his sleep, and the engine froze.

George Lober