Remembering Mr. P – Greg Massey

His last name eludes me.

However, I remember numbers.
The telephone number of my parents’ house during my youth,
the first pre-algebra problem in seventh grade,
and those numbers that faded across his forearm.

It was 1990 and I would enter
95-1200-1 into the computer
while ringing his Champion CJ8
spark plug up for the sale.

(He and his twelve-year-old grandson repaired small engines).

I remember his troubled English and how
we communicated through broken parts and
pictures from newspaper fliers.

The same plaid shirt,
Briggs and Stratton oil-stained stripes and
tattered 501’s
-wreaking of gasoline-
This, I remember.

One dollar and six cents,
correct change without error
for seven years-
I remember.
The gimp in his step,
a bowed leg and contorted hips
that C-shaped his back
and confused the gait of his movements.

Black-rimmed lenses
suppressed vanquished eyes
as he mechanically mumbled,
“One dollar six cents”
while arranging coins,
in sequence,
upon the counter.
This, I remember.

One Christmas week
I met him at the door
with a package.
he opened
twelve spark plugs
and a hand-scribbled card.

His shoulders sank,
his head tilted towards the tiles beneath his feet
while lifting his
gray eyes above quiet tears.
“Dziekuje Ci. Dziekuje Ci.
Good. Friend. Dziekuje Ci.”

Greg Massey is an American writer and poet who resides on his farm in Olive Branch, Mississippi. He obtained his B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of MS and an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. Greg is an English professor at Northwest Community College. 

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