Beth tossed me the keys to her brother’s Jeep
she’d more or less permanently borrowed,
trusting me not to kill us. We’d dated for a month,
started dreaming about spending our lives together.
Getting up to the Glacier, a piece of wedding cake,
but foolish Brooklyn boy that I was, I drove
into deep snow, believing a four-wheel Jeep
could traverse anything with my foot steady on the gas.
So we sat. frozen in a snow-sea, worried—
in those days before cellphones—how we’d contact
a towing service, while I feared Beth would see
what a screw-up I was, and dump me.
As I was about to flood the engine on a last attempt,
an older gentleman poked his head in and asked,
“Need a hand? I drove these babies in the War,”
and while Beth and I stood holding each other
in hip-deep snow, he coaxed the engine to purr,
shifted into “First,” then “Reverse,” again and again,
snow flying everywhere, until he cut a path of escape,
our thanks more profuse than if he’d rescued us
from war-path Apaches, in an old Western.
We’ve been together ever since, but never drove back
up again, not wanting to tempt the Goddess of Misfortune
into another chance to play with us; besides, it’s no longer
St. Mary’s Glacier, just St. Mary’s, hardly any ice left.
Robert Cooperman’s latest collection is BEARING THE BODY OF HECTOR HOME (FutureCycle Press). Forthcoming from Aldrich Press is HELL AT COCKS CROW.