This one will have to be changed - as you see somehow, I don't know how - at the end, but I'll read it the way it is now.

Filling Station


Oh, but it is dirty!
– this little filling station,
oil soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it’s a family filling station)
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color –
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:
to high strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.


from The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1983) copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. Recording made on 15 April 1974 at the Coolidge Auditorium, Library of Congress, Washington DC, used with permission of the Library of Congress.

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