The Station: A Second Take

He has three wiry boys and their pock-marked,
idiotic faces prove the oil
does get everywhere, no matter
how much gravel is tossed around.

The boys smoke, and too casually stab
their butts down to die in oily piles
of tires and bike rims, airy bits
of grime that arise in pockets

and roughly ring the station. Mom
is dead, but the middle boy is a rock,
has a tidy, gentle nature,
a grace that remains untouched

by his surroundings. Daily,
he waters the prim plant, which drips
on his dog’s tail, and stacks quarts
of oil exactly as mom did.

The oldest, who will inherit
their poor company (if not
as quickly as he might like), has moved
to the big city. He plans to marry.

The youngest boy came too late
to feel strongly about the station,
but comics laid
on the big dim doily are his.

He stays, but wants to quit,
to fly away and into
a fiery-colored flag of some
other culture, not these icy grays,

morose blacks and whites, to fly away
before he no longer notices
the vivid rainbows that barely rise
to the brim of the day’s oily puddles.

_ The poem is an anagram of Elizabeth Bishop’s “Filling Station.”

Mike Smith | Mudlark No. 30
Contents | Rereading Stephen Crane