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Object Mother

by Natalie Scenters-Zapico

At the Vintage Car Wash I keep guard over the flat-screen TV hung in a corner
of the concrete waiting room. I watch live video footage of my car being pulled
by conveyor belt through a tunnel. I watch as rotating arms punctured with
hoses spray the car pink, blue, yellow, then technicolor. The car moves through
the tunnel real slow and I already miss my car like I’d miss a womb upon leaving
it. My car leaves the flat-screen TV and from the glass doors of the car wash I
watch two men in red polos drive it around the side of the building to shammy
dry. I exit the building to be reunited with my car, to be given the keys, to leave
a tip, to return to my womb, to drive home. I exit the concrete waiting room
but cannot find my car, so I wait for it like a child lost in a shopping mall. I ask
strangers: Have you seen my mother? Have you seen my womb? No, the strangers
have not seen my mother, they have not seen a womb, nor have they seen my car.
I go back inside and frantically ask the attendant: Have you seen my mother? She
is green. She is a car, too big to miss. The attendant rolls footage of my car going
through the tunnel, then surveillance of two men in polos like those of the men
who work at the car wash get in my car, get in my womb, its key in the engine,
and drive off. The attendant says: Probably gone to Mexico by now, probably
stripping it for parts, probably burning off the VIN as we speak, probably be used to
transport drugs now, probably never gonna see it again. I am frantic. I am in tears:
I’m never gonna see my mother again? The attendant says: Oh baby, you’ll see your
mother again. Just not in the United States.

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón and The Verging Cities. She has won a Windham-Campbell Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a CantoMundo Fellowship. Scenters-Zapico currently teaches at the University of South Florida.