Enough snow over last night's ice
so the road appears save, appears
as a long white scar unfolding.
Ohio, cold hawk off Lake Erie,
And only enough light to see vague outlines:
the castlelike shape of mill stacks
and the shape of gulls' wings
dipping to the parking lot for garbage
lashed this way and that by the wind
these nights have in common.
I pumped gasoline from five to midnight
for minimum wage
because I had a family and the war
made me stupid, and only dead enough
to clean windshields.
When you clean the windshields of others
you see your own face
reflected in the glass.
I looked and saw only enough hope
to lift me car to car and in between
I breathed the oil smell and the fly strips
and the vending-candy air.
The Gulf sign clanged in the gale,
the plate glass strained like a voice
I thought would shatter
but still cars came, dim headlights
casting the snow into a silver sheet
then the fenders like low clouds,
then the bundled families
and the hushed sound
when father opened the window
and slipped me the money for gas.
Only a second when our eyes would catch
and the wind shows some mercy.
Copyright 1988 by Bruce Weigl
Reproduced with kind permission