Devil’s Lake

Fall 2011 Issue

Hannah Craig: The High School Principal Reads a Poem to the Cashier at the Car Wash

He wants to be known as both

a blue-blood and a blue-collar;

the conflict is totally unresolved.

Nobody will ever know how close

he came to slugging his fist

into the wall as he discussed menus

with the cafeteria workers. They always

wanted corn. He wanted variety.

Navy beans. Calabaza squash.

Fiddlehead ferns. But he also

wanted to be known as the guy

who makes great chili. Now he wants

to read a poem about pizza by the slice.

Served on fine china. Body dysmorphic,

he explains, which also validates

that dream he had, as a boy,

about the white pony

with the blue bridle. Which he rode

to pick his father up at ALCOA.

I’m alone all the time in my body,

he notes. I see that in you, he explains,

and the cashier rings up the $5.99 special

wash-and-rinse along with the pack of citrus gum.

She says nothing. She kicks

her law school books under the register.

He’s sorry about what he assumed

in a poem called, She Had So Much Potential.

The car is so shiny when wet, he says,

that the pelicans above us in the sky

confuse it for water and land,

breaking their necks, again and again. O, he says,

and the blue metal is just as bright and cold

as your brilliant little eye. Ok, she says,

Ok. Just drive up to the side of the building and wait.

Someone will come for you, someone will be right there.

a photo of the author, Hannah Craig HANNAH CRAIG lives in Pennsylvania, USA. Her work has recently appeared in the American Literary Review, Columbia Review, 32 Poems, and elsewhere. More from this issue >