May 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Two
Mather Schneider
RIZELDA AND THE STREET SWEEPER

When Rizelda was five years old
she got run over by a street sweeper.
It’s one of the funniest things
to hear her tell the story, now, forty years later,
after she’s had five or six spritzers.

She goes to the Bum Steer every afternoon
before her husband gets home from work.

She loves telling that street sweeper story,
it’s one of her fondest memories.
I guess they had street sweepers during the day back then.
Even now, she swears, she’s afraid to walk alone
when the street sweepers are about.  I laugh;
it’s funny, and strange, miraculous really
how she escaped without a scratch, without a tear,
just a little confused, a bright color
in her cheeks, as her parents went crazy
and dusted her off and checked her all over.

I mean, didn’t you hear it coming? I say.

You’d be surprised, she says, those
bastards can sneak up on you.

You weren’t drunk already
were you Rizelda?


Hell no, she says, winking,
it was only noon.

We’re pretty good friends, her and I.
One night she showed up at my house
with fresh cuts and bruises on her face.

She used the bathroom, and when she came out
she sat down next to me and cried.

Looks like you got run over by a street sweeper, I whispered,
trying to make her laugh.  And it worked,
she laughed a little.
Tell me again, Riz, I whispered, holding her, how could anyone
really get run over by a street sweeper?


Such a sweet woman, it was the only time
she ever denied me.