Taxi Driver

I’m at the gas station, in the far back, where the light is out, filling diesel cans by the light of my iPhone, when an older woman pulls up and starts talking to me.

Busy, busy, she was at work that day.

As she’s waiting for me to finish, and I’m crouched in the dark, I ask what she does for work. I’m thinking nurse’s assistant. I’m dead wrong. She’s a taxi driver. She’s taken people to Chicago, to Boston, and then everywhere around the state. To the grocery store, or south to Bennington. For years, she had been a long-distance semi driver, so the taxi gig is a kind of retirement, keep-her-busy kind of gig.

I’ve never met a taxi driver in rural Vermont, as common an occupation as that might be elsewhere.

Peat moss from Canada, she tells me. By this time, she’s taken my phone and lights my way. Blustery, she tells me. But that doesn’t stop her from wiping off my cans with her rag and lifting them into the back of my car, saying my hands must be cold.

I offer to hold the light for her, but she sends me on my way. She’s left the hatch of her vehicle open, so her side of the gas pump is relatively well-lit. She knows her way around a dark gas station; she knows what she’s doing.

Last of November. I drive home to where my daughters are heating Thanksgiving leftovers in the oven.

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My running route leads me into the woods behind the town’s community gardens, through a path flanked by frost-nipped goldenrod. A hundred years ago, the town’s granite industry spread over that field. Just before I cross a wooden bridge into the forest, I always pause at a historic sign marking where an industrial building once stood.

Really? I think. Only dog walkers and I, an occasional kid fishing, wander along there now.

My route follows the former railroad bed, its tracks ripped up for scrap metal in WWII. Yesterday, just over the bridge, I see the rain and erosion have revealed a chunk of granite, about the size of a library book, the number 12 marked on it.

Whose hands printed that? And with what indelible ink? I tried to pry the rock up and carry it away. The rock was determined to remain — for a while longer, at least.

An empty day without events.
And that is why
it grew immense
as space. And suddenly
happiness of being
entered me.

Anna Swir

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