chevy 1957
Candy Apple Red
By Ellen Rowland

There was a time I loved a boy
who drove a ‘57 Chevy, restored it
himself with gentle, oil-greased hands.
He taught me to recognize a model year
by the fins at the back of the car
which seemed to me more like wings
as we flew across the highway to distant towns.
I can still tell you now, for instance, that the ‘56
tail is slightly more rounded than its showy upgrade,
headlights prominent in the front grill.
I loved him for other reasons too.
The peach fuzz on his upper lip, how he palm-cupped
his cigarette as we walked down Main Street
invisible to anyone who might object
until he brought it to his lips, more like a harmonica
then a Marlboro Red. How he would only take a drag
after we ducked into the alley behind Bones Diner,
tucking a long, windblown lock behind my ear
so it didn’t get tangled in our tongues.
How he listened silent and reverent
to my imitations of celebrities, my theatrical
readings of Emily Dickinson, saying,
“You really need to get out of here.”
I was dragged out at sixteen and hardly looked back
but I can still feel his eyes on me
adjusting to the street light glow in the Chevy’s front seat,
stick shift our chaperone. Have never felt anything since
like the thrill of his leaning in, engine idling in our only winter.

IMAGE: Candy apple red 1957 Chevrolet BelAir (

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Growing up, my family lived for several years in a small town in West Virginia, where I met my first love. Over the years, I’ve woven together a patchwork of moments we shared, always amazed at the details of what has remained in memory, including the heartache of being uprooted. This poem is a fond attempt to honor the teacher that first love can be, a relationship many adults tend to dismiss as frivolous and fleeting.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellen Rowland is the author of two collections of haiku/senryu, Light, Come Gather Me and Blue Seasons, as well as the book Everything I Thought I Knew, essays on living, learning and parenting outside the status quo. Her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals and in several poetry anthologies, most recently The Path to Kindness: Poems of Connection and Joy and Hope is a Group Project. Her debut collection of full-length poems, No Small Thing, is forthcoming from Fernwood Press in spring 2023. She lives off the grid with her family on an island in Greece. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.