Heading home from yoga
I go to the Chevron Station
To drop another $40 in my
Hope unreasonably they will have
Frozen yogurt by the pint,
And am more than a little certain
I’ll do the Pavlovian Marlboro Light
Addict slobber at the counter.
(Technically they are Marlboro Golds now
as if instead of lightening your breathing
they enrich your lungs.)
I don’t really like any gas stations
But the Chevron is right there
And, too, chevron is a knitting pattern
Fossil fuel for fiber fiends,
A thought that pleases me.
I step inside while the pump runs
And the gorgeous clerk
Fresh scrubbed and possibly having
Recently defended her dissertation
Flashes me a blinding smile
As I head to the freezer and wave.
Baby come back
Why don’t you come back
Drifts out of the speakers
And this pleases me, too
But it is pleasure tinged with aggravation.
Now my mental jukebox will go
On the prowl searching,
Time traveling back to the Jersey Shore
Too many pony bottles of Rolling Rock
And all those nights dancing until 5 am
Before my first shift waiting on old folks
Starts at 7
Who is it?
There is, of course, no frozen yogurt.
I cannot justify a full fat pint
And settle at last on an orange
Flinstone push-up pop
At the counter I ask,
“Do you have one of those things
that tells you what song is playing?”
(I think I’m trying to say, “Is this satellite radio,
because surely it’s not a local station.”)
“No,” she says. “If I did I’d be able
to change the station.”
“I can’t tell you who this is,” I say
(Like she cares)
“But I can tell you it’s…”
I pause. Think. Pause.
“1983. I’ll look up who later.”
“I want to know when the Challenger crashed,” she says.
“Give me a second I tell her,”
and think again.
“January 1986,” I say,
“I saw it.”
And I did see it, looking up
Above the U-Slave
That’s what I called the grocery store
Where I worked in Vero Beach
The sunny warm winter that shuttle
Asked Y in the sky.
I verify this on my iPhone.
January 28, 1986.
“I remember it not because
how horrible it was,” I tell her
“But because I was living with
the horrible parents of my horrible boyfriend then.”
And I ask—is it rude of me—
“Where you even born yet?”
She was four and a half months old.
“Ah,” I say and tell her
I was not quite that old when Kennedy was shot,
As if being born near tragedy
I appreciate how she tolerates me
With a look of genuine interest
And tells me about the kids who come in
Wanting to buy beer with suspicious i.d.’s
“I get a lot of 9/11s,” she says.
“And other holidays.”
She quizzes these holiday babies,
Searching for some truth.
We wish each other good night.
Driving home I lick the push-up pop
And think of how it tastes like
A frozen St. Joseph’s baby aspirin
And remember the time I let my son
Eat a whole box of these treats
Orange, green, blue
It’s what he wanted so I let him try
And he enjoyed himself until
He threw up blue goo on
The couch, also blue—nice touch.
At a red light, I type “baby come back”
Into the search box.
Howard Jones, no.