October 2005 / Volume Six / Issue Five
Abbie Logan
on the painter, sort of

this middle-aged Mexican man
plods around the complex day after day
with his five-gallon bucket
and his brush
painting doors
and the letters on doors
of four hundred-plus units

last week he painted my F
I carefully inspected the workmanship
but then remembered
where I'm living

still, I guess we're all looking to attract
a few new tenants

he is always sweaty
wears the same clothes each day
and has a tired, sad look on his face
I often want to say hello
but he doesn't speak English
and he doesn't smile back
after you throw him one

he is working at 7
when I nearly run him over
in my attempt to get to class on time
he is working at 6
when I am walking my dog
after dinner

sitting on my front porch steps
smoking a cigarette
I talk to my self-decided-just-ex-boyfriend
who calls me up
to say he's fed up with my depression
that I'm fucked-up for saying I still love him
that we should probably start seeing other people

maybe it's the Wellbutrin
but all I can say is
"uh huh"
or maybe it's the Mexican trudging by
pulling a generator
using what seems like every ounce
of his not-so-impressive strength
to move it up the incline of the pavement

the voice in the phone
is heartwrenching
he reminds me of the ways I have hurt him
how he needs more and wants more and deserves more
"not to kick you when you're already down," he says

"uh huh"

it is 6:30 pm
and despite anguishfest in my ear
all I can think about
is whether or not the Mexican
got to take a lunch break
wondering how much he's getting paid
if he's illegal
and as vulnerable as he looks
when's the last time he's been with a woman
or at least whacked off
to a decent mag
is his life
just what I am seeing
right in front of my eyes


I am thinking that
-for some reason-
after I go back inside
tonight just might be okay