“Pine Box Derby” by Larry Crist

Larry Crist


Another cruel indignity foisted upon me this time through cub scouts
my pine box racer
they all look the same out of the box
mine remained the same
until the day before the big race
when i remembered i was supposed to do something to it
I sanded down the edges some
and painted it black
flat black
the kind they use in theatres to make things disappear

My mother attended race night with me
the only single mother in a sea of mothers and fathers
but mostly fathers
fathers with power tools and sanders and high gloss paint
and, perhaps allowing their sons to touch their racers for the first time
each boy placed his racer on the wooden downward track

I lined mine up among the others
many of which had decals and numbers to distinguish them
Mine, however, did not require any such superficiality
it stood there like a crow among peacocks
an Edsel among Porsches
like a guilty man among the innocent

The gate rose and these little cars
succumbed to gravity and aerodynamics
and greased wheels and
mine was out in the first round
There was no prize for originality
or minimalism
I took my racer from the track
I wanted to light it on fire and send it
down a dark San Franciscan hill
I didn’t though
I don’t remember what i did with it
now to forget the rest as easily

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004

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