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Car Wash


This business of driving
reminds us of our fathers.
The low purr of fifth gear,
the sharp fumes, the biscuity
interior – has brought them,
ever-absent, nearer.
And has brought us, two
women in our thirties,
to this strange pass,
a car wash in Belfast;
where we’ve puzzled
and opted for ‘Executive
Service’ (meaning
detergent) and have minded
the instructions to wind up
our windows and sit
tight when the red light
shows, and find ourselves
delighted by a wholly
unexpected privacy
of soap suds pouring, no,
cascading in velvety waves.

And when spinning blue brushes
of implausible dimensions
are approaching the vehicle
from all directions,
what can we do
but engage in a kiss
in a world where to do so
can still stop the traffic.

And then to the rinse,
and in view once again
of incurious motorists
idling on the forecourt,
we are polished and finished
and (following instructions)
start the ignition (which
reminds us of our fathers)
and get into gear
and we’re off
at the green light.

From: Self-Portrait in the Dark
Publisher: Picador, London, 2008

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