Poem of the Week, by Aria Dominguez

The Things I Cannot See
– Aria Dominguez

The corner store went up in flames, and he talked about it for weeks.
An armada of fire engines, lights flashing: a two year-old’s dream.
The smoke, the steam, the frozen spray coating
the trees, bushes, and house next door.

Then the shell was demolished, yet more excitement.
Crane, wrecking ball, backhoe, dump trucks,
construction workers directing traffic
in yellow safety vests.

All year, every time we drove by the vacant lot.
he pointed out, There’s where the building burned down!
He wouldn’t let me forget the fire I fear, how easy it could be
to find myself out in the cold watching our life blaze into ashes.

At the end of summer, a construction fence went up
as hard hatted surveyors measured and planned.
One day we passed the site to find it crawling with machines,
excavation of the foundation begun.

Momma! he screamed with what seemed overmuch fervor,
even for diggers in action. He shrieked, Where are the plants?
The plants are gone! Indeed, the neck-high weeds blanketing the property
had been ground up under the metal tracks of the equipment.

I told him the plants were to be replaced with a new building,
thinking he would be excited to watch it go up. But he began to sob,
No, make them put the plants back. I loved those plants.
They were green and had pretty flowers. Put them back!

I tried to explain that they were just weeds. I tired to explain
that many in the neighborhood have no cars
and nowhere else to walk for food. People often say
he is a kid you can explain things to, but there was no explaining this.

All I could do was pull over and hold him as he wept for the death
of flowers sown by the wind, the loss
of green growing for the sake of being green, the emptiness
of the earth left to do what it will.


Aria Dominguez is a Minneapolis poet and photographer. For more information on some of her work, please click here for information on the Powderhorn 365 Project: http://www.powderhorn365.com/index.php?/categories/54-Aria-Dominguez

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Alison-McGhee/119862491361265?ref=ts

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So did you know that at our local gas station –

You have to write something that begins with “So did you know that at our local gas station. . .”

Do you want to? Not really. But write it you will,  because this is what you signed up for, here on this write what I tell you, like it or not day.

Off you go to the search engine, to find a photo of your favorite local gas station, so that everyone can see how charming it is, if indeed a gas station can be charming.

Here are the words you type into the image searching engine: winner gas pump munch nicollet.

That photo to the right up there is what comes back to you. It is from a woman named Shea’s blog, which appears to be a food blog. Does Shea’s blog have anything at all to do with the Pump ‘n Munch on 44th and Nicollet, here in the frozen hell you call home?

In an alternate world, perhaps, but not in yours, at least not today, this early morning when your frozen hell city has been declared the nation’s coldest by all the weather stations in the country. But you shall keep that photo up there, because looking at that woman’s smiling face –Shea, is that you?– gives you hope that one day you, too, will feel like smiling again, here in the frozen hell in which you live. Look at her there, in what appears to be a greengrocer’s, surrounded by healthy green vegetables. You would like to live Shea’s life for just a few moments, perhaps the next five, to be exact.

PAUSE FOR STATION IDENTIFICATION

Not really. But you suddenly had an intense craving for a large spoonful of Plantation Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses, and who are you to deny intense cravings? You also have an intense craving to be in Shea’s greengrocer shop (is that how you phrase it? or should you say Shea’s greengrocer’s – is just the word alone sufficient? You are not British, so you cannot speak with authority on the subject of greengrocering), but since that craving cannot be immediately satisfied, the blackstrap molasses will have to do.

What is it about molasses, anyway? Do any of the rest of you get an intense craving for a large spoonful of it every now and then? Does it indicate an insufficiency of something in the body? Certainly there is a lack, or maybe it’s an overabundance, of synapse firing in your own body, but can a large spoonful of molasses help with that?

BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING

Which happens to be the Winner Gas Pump ‘n Munch at 44th and Nicollet, here in the frozen hell otherwise known as Minneapolis. You have written about Winner Gas previously, in terms of its being your preferred place to purchase lottery tickets, but you love the Pump ‘n Munch and you do not love the BP, the SA, or the Holiday, so back to Pump ‘n Munch you go.

There appears to be nothing that can’t be bought at the Pump ‘n Munch. For a store that’s roughly the size of half the first floor of your house (meaning, tiny), these, off the top of your head, are a few of the things you can stock up on:

Assorted candy, milk, cream, sodas (both brand and off-brand), beer (you think, anyway – you are not a beer drinker, but many of the Pump ‘n Munch customers seem to walk out with tall cans of beer-ish looking beverages), tiny bottles of weird-looking energy and/or aphrodisiacal drinks, cigars, chewing tobacco, condoms, pain relievers of all sorts, hot coffee, pre-made sandwiches, a virtuosic assortment of snacks, household supplies such as garbage bags and toilet paper, fishing supplies, birthday cards, “Busted: a magazine of Mug Shots, Sex Offenders, and Criminals in Your Neighborhood,” and, of course, all manner of lottery tickets.

But the best thing about the Pump ‘n Munch is the man behind the counter. He is there literally all the time. One of your friends, a man who also favors the Pump ‘n Munch above all other gas-dispensing establishments, asked him recently how much he works per week.

“70-80 hours!”

“Why so much?”

“Bills, Charlie! Bills!”

Your friend’s name is not Charlie, but the man behind the counter calls everyone –everyone male, that is– Charlie. Does the man behind the counter have a family? Interesting that you should ask that question, because your friend posed the exact same question to him.

“No! You find me a woman, ok, Charlie? Find me a good one!”

It’s surprising that the man behind the counter doesn’t have a good woman, because he is so endearing, so cheerful, so energetic and kind. Many is the time you have been waiting patiently in line at the Pump ‘n Munch –as patiently as you can do anything, that is– while the people ahead of you, people who, by all appearances, live hard and difficult lives, fumble in their pockets for change to buy their candy, their Mountain Dew, their lottery tickets and/or their tall cans of beerish-looking beverages.

“I got you!” the man behind the counter will say, fishing a dollar out of his own pocket. “See you tomorrow!”

When you buy your lottery ticket, he hands it to you and says, “Good lu-uck!” If he forgets, you remind him.

“You have to say good luck,” you say, and he laughs and says, “Good lu-uck!”

Yes, this is your local gas station. Everyone should be so lu-ucky to have one.