Saturday book feature — Notes from the Column of Memory — Wendy Drexler


It’s 6:30 and the attendant at Nick’s Service Station
in my town is closing up for the night, setting out bright
orange plastic traffic cones. He might be Nick and he might

also be the “Master Mechanic on Duty” as the sign
says above the bay door. He’s leaning on his cane
as he moves one cone a few inches away from another,
getting the spacing exactly right. Now his hands linger

as he unkinks hoses on a pump, settling them down
for the night. And I’m thinking of Hopper’s “Gas,”
the attendant behind the pump doing something we can’t

see as he leans into the work in the dimming light. I lean, too,
soaked in the silence of dusk, in the lollipop-red of the three
pumps that glow like little moons. I orbit around and past them,
skirt the girth of hemlocks that are scooping up the darkness.

You don’t want to go into those woods, either, do you?
So you fall down along the ribbon of red-tinged grasses,
traverse the strip of macadam that bends slightly right

and out of sight. No one’s there for you. So you come back
to the path of white neon that streams from the station windows,
enfolds the pumps, and even though it’s an empty, sharp
kind of light, it’s all there is to hold onto. Let’s cling to it,

Nick. Don’t close the station now. Take my hand, we can stroll
to the Mobilgas sign that towers over the tallest tree. Let’s climb
the pole, mount the red-winged horse threshing that sky-high field.

by Wendy Drexler from Notes from the Column of Memory (Terrapin Books, 2022)

Cover art: Judith Greenwald

link to Hopper’s 1940 painting Gas:

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One response to “Saturday book feature — Notes from the Column of Memory — Wendy Drexler”

  1. richardsund Avatar

    An honest great poem about crossing into unknown/ unsafe territory. Hopper’s painting and the poem match so well. I still wonder how Hopper managed , in his Art, to capture a sense of isolation so well. Love this poem.

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