Reserve

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By Alex Maclean
Ully Hirsch/Robert F. Nettleton Poetry Prize Award Co-Winner
Published: April 20, 2011

We took our time on the trip

The Indian Reserve has cheaper gas, so we filled up our tank there

This small passage within the stretch

Where the houses are shabbier and a small house for gambling peeks out behind the stationw

Christmas lights in July and multicoloured decks

This place we go through each time we take the trip

You usually walk into the station to buy chips

And I sit in the car

Feeling lucky

You told me that the government throws money

I imagine the money settling on the ground

The government chucking it in this passage

It floating in the breeze and mingling with the flaky shingles of the half painted houses

You tell me money can’t fix the problems

In my mind the money could cover the holes

In the houses

And the potholes

Each time we arrive here I play a game with Aaron

This game is called “houses that I like”

Sometimes Aaron makes up stories about what goes on in the houses and I pretend to believe him

It’s easier this way

When we pull away from the station you’ve told me

Of the man walking along the road in the dead of winter

Of a child left at home

A broken bottle bloodied and smashed in the snow

The deep red mimicking a jolly, vivid cherry against the white

A pool of vibrancy amongst the bleakness

But I am protected by four sturdy props of glass

And pillars of metal and gas propelling me forward

And out

And away

And I feel lucky