Her father brings her with him each night to his shift at the tie-treating plant.  He clocks in while she sits in the back of the Nash Rambler and clutches her blanket.  She stares into the dark, focuses on the doorway—where he will sneak out of work, reappear under the yellow light, punched timecard in hand, head bent to the ground—waits for the sound of his boots thudding over the asphalt under his long stride.  He drives them to the Log Cabin Bar where he parks in the alley, pushes down the locks with a callused finger, and says, “I’ll be right back.”  Night air lingers on her arms as she sees him disappear through the splintered door.  Curling up, she draws the pink blanket over her head, makes a tent, a dark house where she hums and traces the rips in the fabric of the seat with her small finger.  She does not look out at the strangers who fall against the car, who tap on the roof and push their foreheads to the window to squint in at her.  Fifty minutes later, right on time, her father’s key turns in the door.  Veins stretch across the whites of his eyes like rivers of rubies and glisten in the rear-view mirror.  He takes the quickest way back to the plant, aims the car down the streets and alleys he’s memorized.  Parking next to the door, he stumbles inside, slides in his timecard to prove that he’s there, to prove he’s been working, then stumbles back out, and they drive the same streets again.  When the bar has closed for the night, he gathers her up out of the back seat.  She clings to him, buries her head in his smoky shirt as he carries her inside.  Creosote burns her nostrils and climbs to the back of her throat where it hangs and catches each swallow.  He lays her on the red, cracked vinyl couch in the office, pushes the blanket tight over her shoulders.  “You’re a good girl,” he says, his breath dazzling and sweet as he leans to kiss her cheek.  “Now go to sleep.”  She closes her eyes, listens to his steps fall into steam and the deep hollers of men—touches her arm where his hands gripped her and falls to sleep thinking of how he pulled her to his chest.

Zetetic separator

—Cara Rodriguez lives with her husband in Casper, WY, where she teaches English at a little community college.  She received her M.A. in Poetry from the University of Wyoming in 2004.  She enjoys writing poetry that focuses on relationships and seeks to understand how relationships affect us.


One Response

  1. mom
    at · Reply

    I told that story to my daughter years ago .. when she was small. I can’t believe she could remember it .. let alone put it together in words I could never use and emotion I could never express .. a few poetic liberties .. but well done.

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