Audio: Tehachapi Seven Eleven

Listen to Tehachapi Seven Eleven

Tehachapi Seven Eleven

Wedged between the customers and the Marlboros,
I’m stationed at the register,
cans of Red Man, Copenhagen, Durango, and Rooster, a scrim behind me.
Salt-sweet jerky sticks stuffed in a cookie jar, 
cash in the drawer, lottery tickets draped like flags of fictitious countries.
Scratch and win.

Outside, in the heat, the pumps line-up, white and blue,
black hoses, akimbo.
A gallon of gas costs an hour’s pay.
You can wash your car,if you want.
Or drive off, dusty.

Thursday’s my day-off.
I get up and get dressed.
The sun rises like a slow yawn.
There’s a note still on the kitchen table.
It’s in her handwriting:
Go fishing, it says.
Drain the lake to catch the fish.

The house is empty now.
She took both the kids.  Neither of them was mine.
I wasn’t the first one to notice her 17 year-old,
sorry and pretty as a freshly painted bungalow,
little smudge of a smile.
The kind that runs toward trouble, not away.
I think about her.
It used to bother me, but not anymore.
You get used to it.
Force acting on an object,
speed of light the same for everyone,
gravity pulling everything down,
rod and reel,
lure and bait.

Appeared in currency, 2012

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