Sunoco, 1934

by Meredith S. Burke

I’ve known quarters, their haggard
loneliness jammed into vending machines,
chocolate sitting in the grooves of my teeth.

Spent pennies on the jukebox, skimmed songs,
swayed at the neck.

Spun tribalism, rituals of the body into
something modern, birthed impossibilities.

Swirled cream with my tongue, swallowed
dimes, stood still when asked.

Learned to stay quiet.

Come on, you can move your hips faster
than that.

Bite your lips red, let the crushed ice
turn them blue, go sit in Grandpa’s

I tasted blood & dust, wondered if such a thing
could be imprinted on the tongue, but itself
into eyelids.

If the grime of the shelves could stay
on me like a shawl, like a sweater clung to my
wet body, like dust in the cracks of linoleum tile.