Skip to main content
Elizabeth Garcia

—for my mother

In the blue cool of morning, before the reds
        had dressed themselves, we sipped our yoo-hoos,

cocooned in blankets you’d tucked around us,
        blinked out the gas station glare and waited,

half-hidden in the the back seat of that old gray car
        while you fetched your stack of papers.

Later years, and braver, we’d drop rocks
        down the hole in the gear stick’s rubber neck,

watch the salt & pepper pavement blur to barcode,
        not quite all the way to gray, the way memory will.

Trash-can colored and rusty, it was a car all throat,
        all fits and stutters, a guttural language

choked at every breakneck shift of gears,
        a devil’s-in-hell kind of loud, so buzz-saw loud

you could feel the fuel catch fire inside it, its inner life burning
        with something I was too small to name.

I wouldn’t have known you were capable of past tense,
        of knowing things other than how to flick the wrist,

to clear your wobbly arm through the window,
        toss the newspaper to the sweet spot in the driveway,

or what else your mind might have been on
        as you made those stops by muscle memory,

what roads you might have taken, returning
        instead, every morning, to scrub

the soot of newsprint from your hands,
        only that we knew well every pause, every back

and forth, every house and turn of that route,
        that we were inured to that car’s ungodly noise,

its roar turned cradle, learned what a body
        can shut out, and find itself rocked to sleep.

—CALYX, March 2023


Elizabeth Cranford Garcia’s forthcoming debut collection, Resurrected Body, received Cider Press Review’s 2023 Editor’s Prize. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has appeared in Tar River Poetry, RHINO, Portland Review, CALYX, Chautauqua, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, SoFloPoJo, Mom Egg Review, and Psaltery & Lyre among others, as well as Fire in the Pasture: 21st Century Mormon Poets. In addition to being an English Instructor, a Georgia native and family history buff, she is a mother of three. She graduated from BYU in 2000 with a Humanities degree, and has fond memories of her time there. Read more of her work at