Freezing December rain, 6:00 Ante Mediem –
I drive a baby-blue 1969 VW Beetle,
Washburn Street, West Scranton,
am late for work on Roadway Express dock.
No parking spaces available at Mastrucci's store,
I double-park, VW idles unsteadily in-neutral,
casual store entry, coffee into styrofoam cup,
old Mastrucci has The New York Times ready,
it's 1979, Red Army engaged in Afghanistan.
I hand Mastrucci $1.50, turn to depart,
& a woman appears in wedding dress,
she's certain I am the one who jilted her
many years ago, at Saint Lucille's altar.
Angry, she lashes out,
curses me for hurting her so.
I hurried to VW, exhaust smoke ascent,
Scranton fog like choreographed incense.
She follows outdoors, threatens harm,
rain soaks beautiful white-gown, it still fits,
Mastrucci said later, “this happens once a year,
Chuck, it's her wedding anniversary that really ain't.”
Today, I'm scared –
that frantic face impaled upon VW window.
Poor woman, yellowish-veil drenched, perm no more,
she screamed, “Richie, I never wanted you to leave!”
1st gear would not engage,
nervous left-foot pumped clutch, a Local 229 Teamster,
fragile, I went to work in honeymoon Poconos,
bride stranded on Main Street, fist disappeared in rear-view,
no empty cans tied to Beetle's bumper, cold rain fell,
no fallen rice, fearful, wedded to I-80 East black-ice,
down & out Saint Lucille had no dowry for me...,
why should that be?
The poem reflects an actual experience while going to work, Winter 1979. Orloski figures its good, every now & then, for people to glimpse ordinary marital-breakups which contrast to glitz Hollywood affairs, gone to hell, and become a model justifying America's divorce from one another.