Evening Shift, Texaco: 1953
by Alice Collinsworth


His pocket said Harold in blue letters
and he told the girl standing by her Rambler
one dollar’s worth of gas wouldn’t get her to Tulsa, no way –
but that’s all she had, she pouted,
revealing the soft pink lining of her purse.

She traced Harold’s blue stitches
with a polished finger.
Couldn’t he help a girl?
Patent leather heels glinted as she tiptoed,
whispered.

Some hibernating male mammal stirred and yawned,
opened an eye, licked its lips.
Ruby was home, trusting him.
Wasn’t his to give. Wasn’t his place. Sorry.

She shrugged and sped away, leaving
a dismissive kiss from her fingertips
and a wilting whiff of jasmine.

He watched her tail lights disappear,
wiping oil-stained hands on a faded,
raveled rag. The grime never goes away.

Harold locked up early, before his heart could
beat him home. He walked the familiar street
under a strange moon full of wondering.






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