Listening to gas hose hiss, a slight-
shouldered man watches pump
numbers climb. Last twenty gone
from his canvas shirt pocket,
his evening hunger unfilled
by leftover two-for-one biscuits.
He surveys his dry rot-ringed
sidewalls, the rust-cankered fenders,
the chips in the aging blue paint.
The harvest moon burns in a puddle
of oil, as evening bends its long note
against the sky’s fretboard. His rosary
hangs from the rear-view, tarnished
cross twisting in breeze. He has thirty
minutes to cross Pickens County,
knock out a shift cleaning floors.
A day pouring concrete behind him.
Wife and daughter three time zones
away. More weeks for the courts to decide.
Duration of residence. Employment
status. Birth certificates. Current address.
The days and nights and nights and days
of work and wait. He watches a tom cat
slide under a dumpster, something brown
in its mouth. He lowers himself in the seat.
He does not close the door. Keys in his hand.
The pendulum beads. The pump’s steady tick.
Robert Lee Kendrick has previously published in Birmingham Poetry Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. His collections are What Once Burst With Brilliance (Iris Press, 2018) and Shape the Bent Straight (Main Street Rag, 2020).