Scott Withiam

Ever Wish We’d Gone Beyond Being Friends? and My Auto Dealership
May 23, 2021 Withiam Scott

Ever Wish We’d Gone Beyond Being Friends?


You asked. I’m remembering the vacation island
native with the last name Love. He mostly fished.
The few times he tired of that, he tended his own makeshift business
cleverly named LOVE’S WISHES. It fed off tourists
in the nearby all-inclusive resort where I stayed.
I hated it— every activity controlled.
Those who walked out, as I did, walked right into Love’s—
a welcome distraction, if he was there. If he was,
each of a couple jotted down a wish for their relationship. One dollar,
please.  Love bottled their wishes and promised to launch them later,
from the end of the point at high tide. When he did,
he removed the cork, so they sank, part of his business plan.
Had we gone there, I like to think, we would have escaped the resort,
and more than likely we wouldn’t have
found Love there— fishing, of course.
But at our feet would have been his A-frame business sign
already flattened by a gust, and tacked to it,
the flapping note trying to convey, ‘Will return for business
when the tide comes in,’ while the tide still went out,
so that we’d say, in the same way we sometimes correspond
about marriage:  “This island always seems to be draining;”
“Perhaps the tide never rises high enough.” But wouldn’t we know it,
down that beach would glide a skinny local boy, arms spread
like the swarm of gulls over his head,
who, as soon as he spied us, swooped.
And reaching us, he wouldn’t stop the chatter— his plan—
so we couldn’t ask, “Do you know when Love will be back?”
only watch and listen to him act
as if he arrived to fill in, hustle— explaining too much— telling
how he and Love worked to gather the washed-up bottles,
clean and lean them upside down against the break wall to drain
then dry in the sun, so to use again.
“Your lucky day,” he’d say, “no sun,
but we always keep one clean bottle for gray days like this,”
and, from behind his back, produce it,
and from under a rock pull two warped bedside table pads,
then remove two golf scoring pencils from a faded, twisted-in-half soda can
sunk in the sand. “Both of you,” he’d say,
“think what you want your love to offer
that isn’t here now,” then hand us our pencils
stolen from an even more prestigious resort course
on an island two miles off the coast, demanding,
“Don’t just stand there, write!”



My Auto Dealership


Would be Snickers in the Showroom,
in which was also located, at the far end,
the Service Waiting Area


where I was seated snickering over the Abundance
of balloons on the high ceiling as one solid mass,
all the same overwhelming the notation of color,


more to be filled in
with thoughts—would be so much
under one roof to get to,


just to show you where I was,
when overhearing a staff-demeaning,
micro-managing sales manager


in his sales meeting, then,
through that open-doored meeting
watch him glare and spout,


“How could they ever run out
of white?” Would be me thinking, Balloons
or humans? and then finally seeing the showroom


solely done up in red ones, balloons
thinking Embarrassing, a lot
of someone’s time and thought


has gone into our strands
cascading down from the ceiling,
and how we’re strung together


at the bottom. My thoughts too,
and then how the cluster looked
like blow-ups of ganglia. Would be,


also, where my synapses wouldn’t snap to
the sales force’s just-released-
to-the-showroom jive


about instantly owning my own
piece of freedom
by driving off who


screaming I’m alive,
and who not? The result,
my default defensiveness,


I was sure, wasn’t the intended mood.
I went so far as
to prepare a balloon statement


for that moment a salesman
began to work the service area— sell
to those of us already waiting, sweating


the expense of repairs. My response
would be roundabout— to offset a sales tactic—
it would describe the salesman’s taught


then repeated pitch as filling
balloons for his living, which,
slowly letting out air, made us both


sound too close to absurd instruments
on the dash, made for a terrible deal, was
a terrible arrangement for me


to attack my own
already attacked by management
to or for whose end, really?


Fortunately, it never came to that,
only to remaining in that service area, glimpsing
outside, through giant sheet glass,


all the separated blue balloons
attached to cars out in the USED car lot. Given gusts
spurred from traffic down the auto mile,


they took off not one second
before their short strings jerked them back.
Inside, it sounded like muffled punching bags.
Outside, it had to be deafening.

Scott Withiam’s second book of poetry, Door Out of the Underworld, was published by MadHat Press in October 2019. His poems are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Tampa Review, and I-70 Review.