from A Home at the End of the World
Once our father bought a convertible. Don't ask me. I was five. He bought it and drove it home as casually as he'd bring a gallon of rocky road. Picture our mother's surprise. She kept rubber bands on doorknobs. She washed old plastic bags and hung them on a line to dry, a string of thrifty tame jellyfish floating in the sun. Imagine her scrubbing the cheese smell out of a plastic bag on its third or fourth go-round when our father pulls up in a Chevy convertible, used but nevertheless—a moving metal landscape, chrome bumpers and what looks like acres of molded silver car-flesh. He saw it parked downtown with a For Sale sign and decided to be the kind of man who buys a car on a whim. We can see as he pulls up that the manic joy has started to fade for him. The car is already an embarrassment. He cruises into the driveway with a frozen smile that matches the Chevy's grille.
Of course the car has to go. Our mother never sets foot. My older brother Carlton and I get taken for one drive. Carlton is ecstatic. I am skeptical. If our father would buy a car on a street corner, what else might he do? Who does this make him?
About Iowa Writes
Since 2006, "Iowa Writes" has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers on The Daily Palette, and it has recently expanded its scope to include work published by Iowa journals and publishers. Curated by the staff of The Iowa Review, "Iowa Writes" features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction several times a week on the Palette.
In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.
Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.
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Michael Cunningham received his MFA at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His books include Specimen Days (2005), The Hours (1998), and A Home at the End of the World (1990).