For years I’ve seen him trudge up the hill from the bus stop. We wave occasionally. He has a face
built for heartache—his own, someone else’s, I’m not sure. He works at the local gas station
across the street from Hi-Rise, high-prices bakery. My husband buys him coffee,
no-sugar-no-milk-yes-our-guilt; he refuses a sweet. Permanently stooped by the northeast,
he pumps our unleaded, squirts fluid and erases bird shit and cottonwood seed sap
from the windshield. He bends more to check under the hood, the properties
of jumbled metal, coiled plastic Providence on which we depend. He nods to our toddlers
now kids when he stands by the driver’s side, waiting for the signed credit card slip. Over the years,
I’ve learned words like spatchcock; as a verb it means to prepare, flatten, usually a game bird, for grilling.
What the hell is wrong with me that I don’t know the name of the man tending my van.