Check Engine Again

How was it that a check engine light could create so much havoc?

I saw it blink at me

undermining the moment's plans,

an unlikely metaphor really.

Check fluids,

those vital to the smooth running of things

before breakdown.

What would have happened

had I done so

on that spring morning you died

would I have felt that loss less keenly I wonder,

would I feel it less now?

your death left me fractured,

ground at the edges like so much


and once ground

those pieces never fit together again

so when that check engine light came on today

I pounded the steering wheel and cried

for both of us.

copyright/all rights reserved Audrey Howitt 22014

Posted for Poet's United Poetry Pantry


  1. ugh. what a metaphor.

    and plays at what haunts us all...could i have done something to change the ultimate reality of their death.

  2. sad and full of remorse.. we tend to analyze every move we made afterwards.

  3. Gosh Audrey, a brave and yet perfectly measured write... Your skill as a poet allows you to perfectly encapsulate what you want to say with power, integrity and originality too. All respect to you. Sending healing thoughts too... Scott

  4. Oh Audrey, I did not know you have suffered a loss. I am so sorry. This poem is so exactly on the money - it is the seemingly small things that unexpectedly plunge us into grief. The what if's are always so hard to bear.

  5. If just the warning light would come on.. With cars it's so clear.. But with humans it will come too late sometimes.

  6. If just the warning light would come on.. With cars it's so clear.. But with humans it will come too late sometimes.

  7. That ending, so sad & haunting in its loss ~ Beautifully written Audrey ~

  8. Over sad nicely presented, wishing you a nice Sunday

    Much love...

  9. I am sorry for your loss, Audrey. I can relate to these small daily incidents that can painfully remind us of a loved one and cause a surge of grief.

  10. Oh Audrey, I so empathize with this. The 'check engine light' is certainly a dread of mine! And so hard when it brings to mind someone is sorry, Audrey.

  11. This is so sad when we suffer a loss. I guess it would be nice to
    have a self check engine within ourselves.

  12. Very well written Audrey. Your sentiment of grief is perfectly conveyed here. I am so sorry for your loss. But please, let go of the guilt. No one can control these things. Yet, I understand how we tend to go into the "what ifs" when something like this happens. Thanks for sharing it here.

  13. Audrey, I so hope this isn't autobiographical.
    Whatever the reality: those 'what if' thoughts keep nagging and nagging, don't they. Let's hope this well written expression of them abolishes them from your mind.

  14. This poem is the quintessential example of creativity, taking something mundane and making it oh so personal. Beautiful work.

  15. I am not sure why this incident with my car brought this all back for me--it had been been a long time since I had touched these feelings--thank you everyone--

  16. OUCH!
    But pound we must until we forgive. Meanwhile the ritual is part of the entire memorial, a smaller part than it seems.

  17. I agree with Brian...when death comes unexpectedly we roll the what if through us...Powerful metaphor in your check engine light.

  18. Heartbreakingly beautiful... who knew a check engine light could be so.

  19. whew...strong and felt Audrey. Perfect example of how the relatively smaller things can trigger the deeper ones.


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