Riding high on the fender of an old Chevy pick-up gone to rust on the side of the road, the light shines no more, nor does it blink to signify the driver’s intent, but the sun shines through it. A sliver of apple-red is all it can muster from that energy source that powers all. But the light still shines through. You can almost hear the engine, chugging like a prop-driven plane. The horn is something out of the Walton’s, as is the whole truck, coming round a mountain road in a cloud of tawny dust. Loaded down with hay or feed, or topsoil, or men. Farm truck. A pick-up put to work. There was no man-child here pretending to be tough. This was about horse-power with a job to do. If you drove this thing you used your hands to get by. And you had to be strong. Likely it was you who had to load it, and you had to use your hands to work the gears and the wheel. The same hands ran themselves right over that fender when it was smooth as glass, and they pulled open that hood more times then a man today might open his side door. You can hear the hood open too, if you try; the squeal of it, the way it sounded when it shut. Solid Michigan muscle. We made them good then.
When I see a truck like this I don’t see rust flakes and dead lights, I see men and their hands and women and theirs, and children and dogs. I see all kinds of weather and ruts filled with mud. There are picnics and state fairs and warm Saturday nights; and Coke bottles and beer cans and bare feet up on the dash. Hank Williams on the radio, a cigarette burning in the ashtray, a stray left hand hanging outside the open window pushing back against the force of the wind. Nothing is dead that was ever living, even if it seems that way. At certain times of the day the light still shines through, if you look for it, and you can see movies inside of places where there isn’t a glowing screen. That’s the best thing of all, that kind of seeing. If you stare at anything long enough you’ll see it too. You just have to look. Keep looking. Watch it all. You can’t save it in a jar without killing it, but you can watch it for a while. The mysterious pulsing luminescence of the living. There’s no such thing as man-made. That’s just vanity. There’s more life in this rusted hulk than you can find behind a glowing screen.
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