August 14, 2008

Foam and fire

We'd wash the car in our swim trunks, splashed by sudsy buckets, sprayed by shimmering arcs squirted from green hoses. Water choked with nozzles made rainbow-haunted mists in the sun. Then, dry clothed and ravenous, we'd pile into the car and drive to the drive-in where we'd order iced root beer and maybe a "long hot dog foot" as my cousin once excitedly barked into the speaker.

There is something essentially primitive, and primitively appealing, about this fire-driven vehicle, its modern shell and bearing notwithstanding. Under its hood is a crude and ancient force, refined, compressed, whose sources and smoke and domestication predate our stories.

But now we return Prometheus' fire to brother sun and our derricks, now bladed and sleek, unto sister wind, who we have learned can light and sail us home all by themselves. Perhaps our earthbound flame will grow sacramental, relegated ceremonially to our candles, Olympic cauldrons, fireworks, flambe's, and the ancient distempers and exuberance of the natural world. And the occasional barbeque. Flame-broiled stuff and washing the car, some car, in the driveway, are forever.