painting, “Gas,” by Edward Hopper

This is the last time I’ll check, he promised to himself as he

rose from the counter to check the coffers of the gas pumps

His fingers scraped against metal and air but

not in the shape of coins.

Third day in a row.

The road lay empty and the only sound was

the rasping of the sun-burnt grass.

His eyes shut, and his palms rubbed into his face.

In the shapes dancing behind his eyelids,

he saw his still body sitting behind the cash register

behind the rack of candy and cigarettes,

his skin waxing,

bones protruding,

dissipating without a single witness

not even a stranger.


There was a line of trees across the gas station that obstructed the horizon but

lengthened the road into a ceaseless number line

with him as a tiny, immobile point,

while he mulled over fragmented sentences through the static of his faulty radio

world war—

tearing through continents—

across oceans—

…The incongruity wore down on his mind.

And sometimes he looked down the dark bend of the road and

would start gasping for breath,

suddenly very uncertain about the existence of humanity beyond the trees.

The silence would crush him from all sides.


he ironed his shirts,

dusted his shelves,

shaved his face.

Ready for the odd car to rumble down the pavement

Ready to drink in the driver’s words more hungrily than the car guzzled gas.


Ah yes

he was a pious man,

and his faith sprung up without fail when the

missionaries from afar visited.

But as the shadows of his building reached toward the murky stretch of trees,

he suspected his beliefs to be futile.



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