Get away from me, he said,
And she knew from the tone
That sheâ€™d heard so many times
That her best was not enough
Again, and she fought back tears
For just a moment, then grabbed
Her purse and started across the
Lot to the concession stand
Where sheâ€™d ask to use the phone
And call her sister whoâ€™d say
I told you so and well, I guess
I can come pick you up
If I have to, and then sheâ€™d
Have to wait there in the glaring
Fluorescent light, in the nauseating
Popcorn and grill smells, and sheâ€™d
Stand there trying to be as small
As possible, watching the darkness
Through the smudged window,
Hating herself and Jesus.
He wasnâ€™t supposed to go
Before me, leaving me here
To deal with the house, the bills,
The crazy grandkids. We were
A team: I cooked, cleaned,
Did for the kids, and he
Worked on the car, carried
The trash out, the groceries in,
Took the boys fishing, to the races,
Taught them how to clean a gun,
How to train a dog.
I thought he was sleeping
Or thinking like he always did
In his recliner on a Sunday after lunch.
We were at the drive-in
Watching Cannonball Run,
A movie we already seen once,
And he never made no sound
To let me know somethingâ€™s wrong.
His lights just went out
Like God cut off his switch
And left me here,
Without no man at all.
He was the king of the drive-in;
Nobody took his favorite spot,
The space just to the right
Of the concession stand,
So that he could swagger
But a few steps to procure
The queenâ€™s popcorn
Or to make a quick inspection
Of his look. Before the feature
Began, heâ€™d wipe the dew
Off the hood of his 396,
Windex the windshield,
Carefully wiping it with a fluffy
Stolen Holiday Inn towel.
Before he got back in the car,
Heâ€™d check the perfection
Of his snakeskin cowboy boots,
Flicking a speck of dirt from a toe.
During all this, the queen
Would freshen up her lipstick,
Pooching her lips at the car mirror and
Unbutton her second blouse button.
The king ran multiple poker houses
And the queen was a cosmetological
Entrepreneur, and they reigned
Over their royal Saturday nights
For nearly a score of seasons
Till the king shot and buried
All his farm hogs one night,
And no one knew what
They might have eaten.
They found a manikin in a dumpster,
Dressed it in one of their dadâ€™s clothes,
Laid it on the side of the dirt road
Near the old iron bridge and hid
Where they could watch drivers stop,
Frantically thinking they had hit someone,
Cursing, stomping through the brush.
When they were finished, theyâ€™d head
To the drive-in, two guys up front,
Two in the trunk, and theyâ€™d mix
Vodka in suicides and smoke cigars
Till they fought each other in the gravel covered lot,
Or one of them puked in the back seat,
Either way, an act of God.