Day Thirteen: ‘Big Star’s Thirteen’

April 15, 2015

The first time I heard Big Star’s “Thirteen”
was in a car hurling down a messy interstate
to visit my grandmother in a rest clinic
a week after doctors ripped her knees anew, again.
Another heavy surgery had dropped her, and my dad
wore the fear of an aging mother deep in his eyes.
He drove carefully. I listened again through headphones
and tried to take note of the chimes each chorus brought
like a maple-red harvest. Or maybe I heard in my dim
attic room at the perch where my record sat stacked
like unread books, buried in dust and expectation,
wishing myself the discipline to call grandma
for a Happy Easter. My father likely on the road,
I-90 trekking as always across the state,
absorbing new music to mention in a text message,
fretting about his mother and her now decade-old knees
and the heart murmur, the digestive issues,
the lot of it. Zoomed out now, the laughs creep in:
a teenage romance scattershot with Stones vinyl
and Romeo-runaway bravado now makes me think
of hospital beds. The carousel peals on.

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