2808 Comanche Drive, Kettering, Ohio
After my mother robbed the Shell station,
two Kettering policemen came to our house
to let her know that technically it wasn’t really
a robbery since her husband owned the business.
But they’d been called. Had some questions.
Summer was mostly over, shafts of sunlight
falling at the feet of the standing policemen
until she offered them coffee and they sat,
accepting cups, cream and sugar. Hearing
of her abandonment. Shifting their holsters,
their cop gizmory, and calling her ma’am.
The thinner man opened a spiral notebook.
Clicked a ballpoint pen and started writing.
Mother was a beautiful woman then. Gutsy,
and more than a match for the world of men.
Time passed. There was laughing. They left.
She emptied an IGA bag, a brown grocery sack.
Looked around the room, checking on an infant
and a toddler, my sisters, smiling and cooing as
she started counting loose bills, stacking them
on the table where the cops had left their cups.
She reconstructed for me, for herself, the look
on the face of the man with a name-tag egg
reading Bob who’d emptied the cash drawer.
In some lightning-flash dendrite of memory
preserving the shared struggle of our life then,
I can see her unfold and smooth ones fives tens,
waving and pocketing the occasional twenty,
shoving my way a mostly-silver sea of coins,
saying, Here, count because she could and
because her face burned, red-hot, with an
end-of-summer light and something else.
Roy Bentley’s work has been recognized with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Ohio Arts Council. Poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Pleiades, Blackbird, North American Review, Guernica and elsewhere. His books include The Trouble with a Short Horse in Montana, published by White Pine Press. His latest collection of poems, Starlight Taxi, won the 2012 Blue Lynx Prize and will appear sometime in 2013.