Heather Altfeld

Henry Ford’s Dream

When he first turned the crank and set the sputter of the Model T
into its premiere whirr, could he have seen the long empty onramps
in the lonely night, or known what it would be like to pull off the road
and look up at those unfamiliar stars?
Did his heart stop to think of his first kiss

a hundred years from now, the way her lips would taste
as he bent across the driver’s side uppercut seatbelt to press
his sweaty palms against the ribby girl fumbling for her iPhone,
bleating its incoming texts from another beau?  Or how the windows

would steam when the little family crawls in for the night, toddler foot
tucked in the drink holder, smudge of the daisy afghan against the glass?
Did he see the antimacassars on the fine headrests, the cold blue lights
hemming in on the autobahn as the evening news spoils in gridlock,

the way men’s fingers would have to thimble around the clean steel bolts
until the fine grind of metal sanded their eyelashes, how after wages
at five o’ clock each evening they would come home to salve their hands
and press their blisters into the soft wombs of their wives?
Could he close is eyes

and see the long lines behind the tanker on the interstate,
jackknifed and bleeding
into the thickets, the slicky mallard flapping oil from furred wings?
Or how it is that solitude grows in these compartments
like a daily moss, the radio tinny in our ears, and how sometimes

we get up at night to pack a few things in a laundry basket
and drive, and drive and drive,
and bend around a rednecked curve in the fog
to glimpse a tiny outhouse in the dizzied light,
someone stretching his thumb
in our direction,
and we pull off until the gravel spits against the underside

and take in what the road has brought? Dear, I am lonely, he said,
turning to his wife in bed one February, and she rolled over to listen,
her hair powdery in the first light.  I’d like to find a way
to go and see our friends.

Author Portrait

Heather Altfeld teaches composition at California State University, Chico and at Butte Community College. She is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and her recent/forthcoming publications include poetry in Pleiades, ZYZZYVA, Poetry Northwest, Superstition Review, Jewish Currents, The Squaw Valley Review, Clackamas, The Arroyo Review, The New Guard, The Greensboro Review, The Laurel Review, and Zone 3. She just completed her first manuscript of poems entitled, The Disappearing Theatre. She loves to cook, travel, and be outdoors, and she admires and collects children’s literature.

View the website of Heather Altfeld