Trouble in Mind

Photograph by Jose Padua
They stop to stare and gawk. I am not
impressed. The “badass truck” as one
kid proclaimed with a twang walking
by, his hair in his face as he considered
the flames painted on the hood. It’s been
parked there for months now, in our other
neighbor’s driveway, in the house where
the woman who lives there now used
to live with another man, Jed, who we
sort of liked after he finally spoke to us
after he and she and their two year old
boy spent their first three noisy months
there never looking us in the eye. It was
at Tharpe’s ice cream truck where we
finally spoke on a summer afternoon,
like, oh, yeah, we can talk to you too,
you’re not so strange
is the way it must
have seemed for them and maybe even
for us too. Now Jed’s got another wife
or girlfriend, in some other part of town,
and he’s got the old kid, too, and he still
drops by from time to time and the woman’s
new boyfriend lives in the house now,
on and off when he isn’t in trouble, but
his truck is always there in the driveway.
People drive by slowly, point and whisper,
or speak of their emotions on seeing it as
if they were cold hard facts to accept and
that explained what’s magnificent on the
street, in the valley, in the world—words
like hydraulics and horsepower and other
terms in whose beauty I will never believe,
having no trust in, much less love of
loud, fast machines. And the woman
looks younger now than she did with Jed,
her hair combed in the morning, even when
the new boyfriend is gone; and when she
comes home, the bass sound pounding
from her car, she rolls the windows up
and turns it off. She stares straight ahead,
never looking at the truck as she opens
the door, and walks what must be several
hard steps toward her quiet, empty house.

-Jose Padua

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