You. At the Tire and Lube Express. You said lube
and I – did you notice? – revved. Your name tag
was missing so I read your hair, curled like a string of e’s,
your forearms drizzled with soft hairs like a boy’s
first moustache. Apart from that, you were built
like a walrus. The kind of man that drives a Ford
pickup. Black or silver. You said, ‘There might be a gas leak
and We can’t fix that here, but don’t worry, we’ll get you fixed.
By fixed you meant hooked up, by hooked up you meant
in touch with and meant nothing beyond touch.
Me. Volvo. Smelled like gasoline: I overfilled the tank
before the oil change. I took the package that comes
with a filter replacement. Have you already forgotten me?
I had trouble with the debit machine. Remember? You said,
Turn your card the other way – remember? – and took my hand,
not the card, took my hand with the card in it
and swiped it through. Remember. Please.
The gasoline. The woman almost on fire.
Notes on the PoemWith seeming gentle good humour, Ian Williams offers a snapshot of contemporary life in "Missed Connections: Walmart Automotive Dept - w4m - (Lunenburg MA)" that is perhaps more typical than we might want to admit. Even if we're not looking for love or companionship using the method he so vividly captures here, we know we make as many if not more connections digitally nowadays than we do in real life. Whether or not those connections are authentic, the feelings associated with them are often intense. Williams navigates them deftly here and throughout "Personals", the collection from which "Missed Connections" comes. Just as one person might find a tweet, a Facebook posting or a news web site comment amusing, the next person out in the ether might find the same words disturbing or alienating. If you were on the receiving end of the missive that is this poem, would you find it comical and charming, and would you be interested in meeting the person behind the words? Would you have the impression that person was lonely, yearning, perhaps a bit desperate? What does this accumulation of plaintive phrases suggest? "- did you notice? - " "Have you already forgotten me?" "Remember?" "- remember? -" What about these final words? "Remember. Please. The gasoline. The woman almost on fire." Do you now want to meet this person more ... less ... not at all?