Smog Check

They’re Middle Eastern; Persian perhaps, or Egyptian,
the couple who runs the business,
a shop within a row of shops
for mufflers or detailing or transmissions,
a world of clanging and hydrologic lifts and tire stacks.
She gives precise directions over the phone,
assures the caller that the wait
is 30 minutes at most, probably less.
Cold air blows in each time the door between
the office and the service bay opens.
It slams hard when he comes through,
paws through the paperwork with blackened hands,
slams again on his way out.
She wipes around the coffee machine
where someone has spilled a packet of Equal,
collects up a discarded newspaper.
He pulls a car around front: a Camaro.
The throb of the engine shakes the vinyl couch
where I sit, pretending to read a book of poems.
One of his hands barely holds the wheel,
the other stretches along the seat,
and he looks out the windshield
as if to an open vista
instead of lines of broken down cars.
She watches him through the window
like he is some distant thing happening
half a world away.
A school bus stops outside
and a boy around eight negotiates
the steep steps,
weighed down by a large book bag.

Published in Duke City Fix

Photo by Nina Mercado on Unsplash