Skip to content

Log Out



God bless the man whose brow greases
the glass when he naps or despairs.
For us, he turns off the tube lights.

For us: someone hums up and down
a carol’s first stile, and the room dims—
bucket roses, carousel racks, fifths

of mint mouthwash costing a mint,
him. But inside his booth, a lace
of tiny bulbs taped to the pane blitzes,

enough to see him lean, listening—
so we sing for him, this man standing
under a valance of rose-gold tongues,

scratch cards lolling from spools.
We sing, backlit by a cooler,
a tropical aquarium dealt into bottles

of Gatorade, one orange tetra, a zigzag
of lightning, funneled into each dose.

I will not swear that no one was tipsy,

that none of us paid the clerk, before
or after, to slide cigarettes across
the metal gully in the sill by his post.

And I will not say that “Silent Night”
sings the same in an Amoco, its lights
doused by the third shift’s drudge,

as in a candlelit church. In gas stations
you can hear the serenade inside
the hymn. You can hear God’s lullaby.



Jane Zwart teaches at Calvin University, where she also codirects the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, and Threepenny Review, as well as other journals and magazines.




Image courtesy of Aleksi Partanen, via Unsplash.

Image depends on its subscribers and supporters. Join the conversation and make a contribution today.

+ Click here to make a donation.

+ Click here to subscribe to Image.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Receive ImageUpdate, our free weekly newsletter featuring the best from Image and the world of arts & faith

* indicates required