In a season in which many are giving and receiving gifts, here’s a poem about the sudden appearance of a thing. This poem is a time machine for all of us who remember eight-track players. Each generation can write their own poems about the first time they saw something like this, something utterly new.

Dawn Potter is the author of eight books of prose and poetry. She directs the Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching and lives in Portland.

Eight-Track Tape Player

By Dawn Potter

The sun slants his hapless rays

through spiderwebbed glass,


and amid the hills of newspaper

rumpling up from the tablecloth

our tight-lipped mama unpacks a miracle

fresh from the S & H Green Stamps Store—

a glory of chrome and veneer,

five fat knobs, two speakers, a slot like a mouth.


Pity the ravaged radio

hunched beside this marvel.

Blinking in the soiled daylight,

our grandpop makes small

kind noises, though in truth

every machine he loves, tractor or Frigidaire,


is broken down and rusted out.

Behind him, in a chipped chair,

our granny slits a new packet of Luckies

with her long thumbnail

and erects a wall of smoke.

Like always, like always,


there’s just the two of us dropped at the altar—

you and me—magicked, rapt, enchanters.

How many rhymes have we sung

to the frog in the well? how many idols

suborned?—a slick wet calf born under moonlight,

the musty sweet smell of a grain bin,


road wind in our mouths and in our hair.

But this—

this is different.

This is the modern world.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc is poet who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2017 Dawn Potter. It appeared originally in “Green Mountains Review” in June, 2017 and appears here by permission of the author. For an archive of all the poems that have appeared in this column, go to

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