My Mother Meets the Cast of Hair

By Adam Grabowski

Featured Image: Rush by Sam Warren

                                              -Ludlow, Ma.  May 1970

                                             Let the sunshine
                                             Let the sunshine in…

Smoking against the façade of a moon-
bleached gas station she listens
with a waitress’s patience to the local boy’s prattle
—her senior year of high school

& already the air stinks of coveralls.
Her hair is black. Brushed out long. Flyaways.
The occasional breeze & his good blue eyes.
A mile from here the highway shakes.

He talks. Keeps talking
even as the bus pulls in, gasps to a stop
its engine a fan with too many cards stuck in the grate.
Broken down, or just in need of gas

doesn’t matter to her as out spills the cast of Hair
looking road-weary & wrinkled
asking about bathrooms & snacks.
Shirts unbuttoned to the breastbone

cigarette butts falling from their sleeves—
the laughter of the well-known & well-liked. Before
she can stub her cig’s ember against her shoe,
before the blue-eyed boy can chortle

they’ve obviously slept in their costumes
the group, having gaggled & gathered
whatever was handy—State Line
potato chips, bread, mustard, Schlitz

—is looking to leave.
Which is when my mother
not the prom queen but close enough
gets pulled away

Come to Boston! they beseech 
to Providence! or stay as long as you like
it
 doesn’t matter. Just come. 
It’s a great idea, it’s the best idea

that I can come up with
where I was never born
where she steps onto a bus
& never looks back.


Adam Grabowski is the author of the chapbook Go on Bewilderment (Attack Bear Press, 2020) and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as PlumeSixth FinchHobartExit 7, and elsewhere. The recipient of a 2021 Parent-Writer Fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, Adam lives in Western Massachusetts and is currently the associate managing editor for The Maine Review.

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