They are from my sporty car,
a red Nissan 240-SX stick shift,
before I forgot what if felt like
to rev the engine, pop the clutch,
and squeal tires on asphalt.
In the summer of 1990,
the sun had already melted
black threads in short fast streaks
as I left my driveway.  

I sold the Nissan before I was done with it.
Baby seats and diaper bags
took up the back seat
of my very practical sedan.
It was green, not candy apple red.  

And now, as I sit behind the wheel
of my latest very practical ride,
one that I can spread out in
and haul kids and dogs
and all the stuff that goes with them,
I almost remembered, just for a second,
the red letter

across the orange sunset
and blue lettered

I saved the plates when I moved back East
to this very sensible home
where it rains all year round,
soaking the ground.  

It seeps thought the cracks in the foundation
in the laundry room above the cement sink
where the water pipes run up the wall.
I slipped my California plates behind the pipes
where I look at them while I wring out socks
and I can almost remember
the fun I had driving down Balboa Avenue,
through the canyons to Pacific Beach
where the sun heated me and my tires,
leaving tread marks as I shifted gears.