There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues. —Eddie Cochran
You can’t spend summers pulling auto parts at the Queens
warehouse without learning how tough it is to walk on concrete floors.
Not a shoe will cushion you as you trek from shelf to cart,
filling cardboard cartons with windshield wipers.
You wheel your cart around the corner to grab a Balkamp 1729
and discover Thelma leaning up against the metal cabinets,
sniffling and rubbing her foot. This is temporary for me, you think.
You are so bored you pull three or four orders at once,
boxes stacked up in the cart, tiny screws hop-skipping
into the wrong order. The checkers on the packing line call you
for pulling a 1728 instead of 29, and you run
the correct part to the front. You are still so bored
you vow you’ll never complain about droning lectures
and fall term classes that were not your first choice.
Afternoons, you smoke a joint with the boss’s daughter, ruining
your accuracy for the rest of the day. You can’t afford to get fired.
Going home in your red Chevy with rotted floorboards, you watch
the street roll under you like a conveyor belt studded with rocks.
You idle at the stop sign, next to a Mustang with a sun-tanned boy
at the wheel. His radio is turned to all the songs of summer.
You don’t know what you know, just that your legs ache, and
still you tap them to the music before the boy drives away.
-Elizabeth Drewry, Cooper Street Journal