In the Car She Drives, the Air is Always Fresh(ened)

By Carla Panciera

March 23, 2020

In the Car She Drives, the Air is Always Fresh(ened)

A cardboard pine tree of Caribbean Colada swings from the rearview mirror, the mirror in which my daughter considers whether she needs eyelash extensions, teeth whitening. Whether she needs her eyebrows threaded. Onto the vents, she’s clipped mini-clothespins of Catching Rays. Somewhere, Fresh Cotton has lodged itself to participate in the olfactory assault.

When I come home and ask why the car has to smell like a corny souvenir shop, she says, disgusted: “Corny? What does that even mean?" I stumble towards the medicine cabinet for anything to ward off the migraine the combined toxins stoke over my left eyebrow (which does need threading but which, to my daughter’s horror, I pluck––pluck!––as if I have just finished following behind the mules breaking sod in Nebraska Territory.)

“Okay,” I manage. “Like a perfume factory. Like a Glade collision on the interstate. Like the senior center ladies lunch. Like some coked-up, hybrid-assed funeral arrangement from hell.”

I think we are about to have it now, the you-don’t-get-me-cuz-if-you-did-you-would-see-what-part-of-our-family’s-fucked-up-ness-I-am-trying-to-mask blow out. Instead, she turns from where she is rummaging through a drawer full of aux cords, earbuds, keys, and says, “Hybrid-assed?”

Then she is laughing––at me, not with me. But I know we will be fine because my polluted head hurts so bad that when I try to focus on her, I see not one, but two of her beautiful selves searching.


Carla Panciera has published two collections of poetry: One of the Cimalores (Cider Press) and No Day, No Dusk, No Love (Bordighera). Her collection of short stories, Bewildered, received AWP’s 2013 Grace Paley Short Fiction Award. Her work has appeared in several journals including Poetry, The New England Review, Nimrod, The Chattahoochee Review, Painted Bride, and Carolina Quarterly.


Photo courtesy of Luigi Manga on Unsplash

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