There’s an Edward Hopper print on the wall above the popcorn cart. Gas. He’s not a mechanic this slight man in vest and tie, bald as a Binghamton poet. Proprietor, more likely, checking the sales’ figures on these tall red pumps. Triangles of adamant light spill from the neat clapboard filling station onto the driving lanes. Across the narrow blacktop road a sandy ditch and a wave of palomino-colored grass lapping at the trunks of mute and glorious fir trees. The lighted sign above the station advertises Mobilgas. Pegasus seems about to leap the trees. Pegasus, the winged horse sprung from the blood of the slain Medusa. Pegasus, who opened the fountains of Hippocrene with a kick of his mighty hoof. Le cheval volant, Pegasus, chez les narines des feu! Pegasus, steed of the Muses, always at the service of poets, poets like Hokey Mokey, love’s self-appointed watchman, and like us kids on O’Connell Street in Requiem, Mass., when we would walk by Jolicoeur’s Mobil station and scream at the top of our unpuddled lungs, Up your ass with Mobilgas!

In a moment, the proprietor will take in those cans of motor oil, stack them by the windshield-wiper display, will cut the lights on the sign and in the station, will lock the door. He’ll drive home. He lives alone. His house is cozy, neat, but unadorned. He’ll fry eggs and bologna, listen to the radio as he eats, listen for the news from Europe where the Germans have claimed the Sudetenland. He’ll save the milk he has not finished. He’ll wash the dish, the fry pan, the glass, the fork, and the knife. He’ll read a book in the living room. Zane Gray. The bartender announces last call, tells me she has to be at her day job at seven. She’s an LPN at a convalescent home. I walk back to Room 128.

--from Requiem, Mass.