Sherry Takes a Cherry Pie to Her Father’s 58th Birthday Celebration

It’s February, one of those thaws you get in the Midwest,
so she’s driving a T-top Firebird, top off and in the trunk.
The 8-track is cranked because we’re young. In our 20s.

According to the Bee Gees, America should be dancing.
According to Gregg Allman, it’s not our cross to bear.
According to Bruce Springsteen, tramps like us, baby,

were born to run. In the backseat of the car, on the floor,
a tinfoil-covered pie pan rests atop a gift-wrapped sweater—
she knows he’ll burn holes in it, the sweater, by day’s end,

smoking endless Viceroy cigarettes at a dining room table.
This will be the birthday where he rises from presents and
a sheet cake decorated with Happy Birthday, Arthur Dixon

and walks to his bedroom to retrieve a Japanese battle flag
and tell That Story. Just now, though, I’m trying to be heard
above 1977’s lusty soundtrack. I’m saying we should have

kids, but not while I’m in college on the GI Bill. I’m saying,
I like our president, the peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia.
It occurs to me to finger-sift her hair through my left hand.

Suddenly, I’m not thinking of her father, war in the Pacific,
how surviving—fight after fight—left him with high fevers
and serial nightmares of the charging enemy. I’m thinking

how blessed I am to be beside her as she drives, scenting
a still-warm birthday pie in an open car in winter in Ohio.
Who knew Morning is a glow off the hood of a Firebird?

ROY BENTLEY is the author of Walking with Eve in the Loved City(University of Arkansas), a finalist for the 2018 Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and Starlight Taxi (Lynx House), which won the Blue Lynx Poetry Prize in 2012. Other books include The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana (White Pine), which was the winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, Any One Man (Bottom Dog), and Boy in a Boat (University of Alabama), which won the University of Alabama Press Poetry Series. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the Ohio Arts Council, and the NEA.