Cleaning the Truck


For my nineteenth birthday I’m going back to Miami to steal my grandfather’s evergreen Ford Ranger. Because he’s developing Alzheimer’s. Because he’s had his license revoked for drunk driving. Because the truck has been sitting behind his house for a year now. Because he’s sat en la sala for a year now staring at the window. When I lived in Miami, my grandfather would pick me up from elementary school. No soy un santo, pero hago lo que puedo, he would say handing me a juice box and a zip-lock bag of croquettes. He’d change the station from Celia Cruz to 50 Cent because he knew I liked hip-hop. Now, the truck’s body is marred with black mold and the sides are scratched with yellow streaks from grazing into wire fences. Side mirrors shattered by his drunken foray to buy lottery tickets at midnight. From my parents’ house in Georgia I call my grandmother to ask if he would sign it over to me. She says yes. Her arms are bruised because grandpa got angry when his Beck’s was replaced with Sprite. Abuelita says they bought the truck for his birthday with money saved from working in Aldi’s. She stocked cards and he bagged. They pick me up from the airport. The next day, I sneak the old Ford into a repair shop. The day after he asks what happened to mi camión. A week later, I leave grandma and Miami. I’m not a saint, but at least I’m cleaning the truck, scraping off the mold, and calling grandma to tell her it isn’t her fault.

ALEJANDRO LEMUS-GOMEZ was born in Miami, the son of Cuban exiles, and now lives in the rural Appalachian Mountains. The 2017 recipient of the Rhina P. Espaillat Award from West Chester University, he studies English and philosophy at Young Harris College in North Georgia. His poetry is forthcoming or has appeared in Reunion: The Dallas Review, the Indiana Review, and other journals.