Thinking About Carnevale’s Wife

The only sign
advertises TIRE ALE
at Carnevale’s garage.
Carnevale himself
stands under his sign
when you drive in,
waiting for your window
to reach him,
watching your tires. “Hello,
Dad,” is what Carnevale says,
his business way of
disguising a bad memory.
I picture Carnevale
calling each of his children
“Dad,” there are so many,
the oldest off fondling
their first
used cars, the youngest nearby
playing with hubcaps.
And when the red
gas pump begins to groan
and spin its eye
and Carnevale sings
in his unusually fine
tenor voice about lost love,
I usually think about
Carnevale’s wife.
I have never seen her.
The open hoods
of cars in the grass
outside her house
utter no clues
about who’s inside. Sometimes I think
she listens behind her blinds
to Carnevale singing
while he pumps gas—a large woman
with a combustible
heart. Or
that it is washday
and she—a small, tired
woman—empties
all the family pockets
of bolts and piston rings.
Or I think that she is thin
and purposeful
and waits
for vats of Carnevale
TIRE ALE
simmering on the stove.

-Wesley McNair