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By Sarah Browning

After the great snow of 2016, my car sits
locked in icy drifts a week, green fossil
of the oil age preserved in graying amber.

I relearn the art of walking, of reading
pocket paperbacks on the bus, which uses
this same stuff, this gas, to bear us through

the snow-narrowed streets of Washington, DC –
Capital of Exxon, Capital City of Shell;
still we are two dozen here driving one tank.

Once the rains come and the weather gang
shakes their collective heads as the mercury
rises to 60 degrees, my car is free to roam again

the Precincts of BP, the Republic of Sunoco.
I’ll drive my car to the climate change rally.
I’ll drive it to the poetry reading that protests

war in Iraq, that denounces repression in Syria,
that stands in solidarity with poets locked up
in Saudi Arabia. My car gives me that much

freedom and power, plus music to soothe me
and a phone charger to keep me connected
to my comrades in struggle. My car glides

smoothly in and out of gear, builds my self-
esteem as I parallel park perfectly each day
in tight spots on the hill where we dwell.

The weather scares me. The wars enrage me.
The poets, silenced by the despots, break my heart.
But my car needs me. My car is nothing

without me. My car and I are one. I pledged
my allegiance long ago – an American century
ago – to my beautiful, necessary, beloved car.

Added: Thursday, October 19, 2017  /  From "Killing Summer," (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017). Used with permission.
Sarah Browning
Photo by Nikki Brugnoli Whipkey.

Sarah Browning is the author of Killing Summer (Sibling Rivalry, 2017) and Whiskey in the Garden of Eden (The Word Works, 2007). She is co-founder and Executive Director of Split This Rock and an Associate Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is the recipient of artist fellowships from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Adirondack Center for Writing, and the Creative Communities Initiative. She has been guest editor or co-edited special issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, The Delaware Poetry Review, and POETRY magazine. Since 2006, Browning has co-hosted the Sunday Kind of Love poetry series at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. She previously worked supporting socially engaged women artists with WomenArts and developing creative writing workshops with low-income women and youth with Amherst Writers & Artists. She has been a community organizer in public housing communities and a grassroots political organizer on a host of social and political issues.

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