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Trees and Cars, 2018

The early November day before, it rained all day

24 hours or more of rain falling persistently, leaves falling resistantly

  pulled down with the water and plastered to the shiny hoods of our cars and lacquered to our windshields.


Mine, a beige Kia Optima with large London Plane leaves (or Sycamore, I can never remember the difference)

  large brown, hand-shaped leaves

around a dozen on my hood and back windshield

leaves broad and flat but stems buoyant, flapping in the drag as I drive.

At red lights I see that some of them present a gradient of yellow to brown, which I hadn't noticed in all the times I shuffled my feet through them to my usual parking spot on the street.


In front of me, a dark gray Nissan confettied with tiny yellow leaves

Locust, I think


Passing on the right, a hurried dark blue Corolla also with small yellow leaves,

Not as many as the Nissan, but enough for a pleasing complementary color scheme.


a grey Prius with a smattering of reddish maple leaves

a red Saturn with yellow maple leaves


Our whole drive on the Schuylkill Expressway they don't come off.

The water has temporarily glued them in place, nature's papier-mâché.

While we sit at our desks, the sun and breeze will dry them off enough that they will pass off once we start the commute home.

Til then, they mark us by the character of our tree neighbors.


At times I envy people with garages,

usually when I'm clearing snow off headlights after a blizzard and I'm already running late,

or in spring when the pollen films greenly over my whole car and my sinuses are already allergy-swollen,

or when I have to do the classical urban dance of the street parking search,

or when it's raining and I have a trunk full of things to unload and I get to our stoop,

hands overfull, wet, irritated, kicking the front door with my only free limb,

hoping my husband will open the door


But this morning I feel pity toward those with the cushy garage lives

as I fly the small brown flags that declare my daily interaction

with this one particular tree,

a declaration made possible by a certain time and kind of rain.

How can I know where they come from, and who their neighbors are?

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