Ditch Water Car Wash

“Come on kids, we’re going to wash the car,” says my Dad,
It’s springtime in the Alberta countryside,
and we pile into the backseat of the family car,
holding our buckets and rags,
warmed by the sun-heated seats,
huge smiles on our faces, because we know,
it’s going to be so very cold and a real challenge.

The ditch water rushes through the culvert at the south mile corner,
and all around the fields are still mostly white.
Dad pulls off the side of the road, half-way into the ditch, as close as he can get,
we jump out and fill our buckets, race back, spread out strategically around the car,
and plunge our rags into the icy water,
then wash like crazy people.

First hands turn red, then beet red – almost purple,
as we race against time.
We need to get the car clean before the ache in our hands
deadens them, and we have to stop.
It’s a source of pride, to finish washing the car, make it shiny-clean
without stopping even once.

To have to take a break, to sit on top of your solid, aching hands,
in the car; hang your head in shame, while tears of failure course down your cheeks,
is the ultimate in defeat.

Of course, that only happened to the little boys – never to me.

~ Audrey Seehagen

Audrey Seehagen is an Alberta poet. Growing up “in the country” southwest of Edmonton left a lasting love of the prairie farmlands in her heart and soul. Audrey is an active and contributing member of the Writers Guild of Alberta and the Stroll of Poets.

“Home means… Alberta prairie – rich fertile black soil; exciting blue sky with thunder and lightning, brilliant orange and red sunsets, clear, cold, pale blue winter skies; trees reaching green fingers into the blue summer sky; the smell of lake water and fresh clean air.”

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

Leave a Reply