Poetry & Writing

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Burnt Offerings: Mother's Day at the Lee's, 1999

On Mother's Day, Dad invited the mechanic, his wife, and three small children,

to resuscitate his '76 Nova, which was the color of a wrinkled orange and

spilling more oil from every crevice than the Exxon Valdez into the neighbors'

flat calm driveways. Dad only drove it from one side to the other to avoid street

cleaners. It was his first car, and my maternal grandmother, who died years

ago, had lent him the money to buy it. We were setting the table with Szechwan

from Mike's Chinese when the car burst into flames. Thirty Chinese and one

half-Cherokee streamed toward the burning Nova. George, my husband, yelled

at them to stop pointing the garden hose at the gasoline fire, but everyone

screamed back in Cantonese. No one wanted to call 911. The Chinese don't like

making a scene, but it's OK for the car to ignite other nearby cars, its flames

traveling slowly along the oil slicks. Auntie Claire suggested we pour a box

of baking soda on the fire. While Dad tried to retrieve his stash of lucky red

envelopes from the glove compartment, twelve firefighters shattered the car

windows with their axes. Afterwards we ate. Then George and I stepped out for

a smoke and watched the neighbors celebrate the rise in property values

as the tow truck dragged away the charred hulk.

                                                                                             Priscilla Lee

I took this image from seller rkansas8604 on eBay. 
It is a 1976 Chevrolet Nova SS Coupe 2-Door. 
My father owned a 4-door.  It cost $6000.

I saw a set of square dishwear in that orange color at Goodwill the other day.
Hard to imagine that I picked that color.
I was 10 and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Saturday dinner at my parents' house in the late 1980's