Patina - A poem about marriage and classic cars


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Matty B, that's what we call him.

The other day I was penning a letter to his father and wrote, "Your son's a good dad... but he's a wonderful husband." I don't know what he'll think about that, but it's what I mean. Parenting is hard, but marriage, for us, somehow just came naturally.

16 years ago, right about now, we were planning a wedding without really knowing each other at all. We didn't have time for that, living long-distance, eager to get started. So we planned a wedding in 11 weeks, 1,600 miles apart.

One day on the phone (a phone that plugged into the wall,) he asked me if it was crazy what we were doing... getting married without really knowing one another. And I said, "Not any crazier than what most of our grandparents did when they met and married and made the commitment to love each other till death parted them. I'm sure there will be things about you that will be hard, but I'm going to marry all of you."

And I did, after less than a dozen dates.

One of the many things I didn't know was how much this Texan loved classic cars, or how my home state of California would suit him so well. Or what a good dad he would be to our three sons... or what a wonderful husband he'd be to me.


Patina graphic


by Wendy Speake


Rambling down the asphalt

toward home,

the boys hear him coming -

whoop and holler

feel him coming.

The rumble of a V-8.


Round the last bend

and down the drive,

dry Santa Ana winds blowing

salt and pepper hair back

till it’s almost gone.

He only grows more handsome.


He used to boast that the men in his family

all had thick hair.

But his isn’t so,

not anymore.

Perhaps driving with the top down,

hot winds whipping youth away.


Parked in the drive, turning the key off.

Sitting for an extra moment,

breathing the scent of the road,

old leather and gasoline.

Jasmine flirting with orange blossoms.



I walk from the house

to meet him.

It’s his favorite part

of coming home.

He looks at me smiling.

Dry fine lines pinch around his eyes.


“Patina” He says.


“It’s the patina I love about this car.”

The thin layer of rust and grime that shows

authentic age,

authentic living.

“She’s all original,

that’s what patina means.”


And my hips swing wider than they once did,

as I make my way to the driver’s side door.

Hair undone.

I kiss him

as the boys whoop and holler.



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