Recession

By Sydney Lea

A grotesquerie for so long we mostly ignored it:
Illuminated mammoth Santa atop
The QuikStop’s roof, presiding over pumps
That gleamed and gushed in the tarmac lot below it.
Out back, with pumps of their own, the muttering diesels.
And we, for the most part ordinary folks,
Took things for granted: the idling semis’ smoke,
The fuel that streamed into our tanks, above all
Our livelihoods. We stepped indoors to talk
With friends, drank coffee, read the local paper,
Which now bears news of hard hard times. We shiver.
Our afternoons are gone. At five o’clock—
Though once we gave the matter little thought—
Plastic Santa no longer flares with light.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/03/recession/307915/