Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
14 Degrees Below Zero in the Grocery Store Parking Lot
by Hayden Saunier
A dog and I stare at each other
from our separate cars, waiting for our people to return.
He’s a shepherd mix, big head, big ears,
like me, he’s riding shotgun.
Heat blares inside my car,
exhaust plumes from the pickup truck he’s in,
so I know he isn’t freezing but I don’t know
if he’s a he or a she, so I just think he.
He watches doors slide open and closed, open and closed.
So do I.
We look at each other, then back to the doors and I wonder
who will come back first—his owner or my friend?
I watch the doors, then the dog. I watch
two girls walk to their car, chuck frozen A-Treat soda cans
out of the dented trunk, make room for beer.
I look back to the doors, then the dog, and I see
a man in the driver’s seat—his owner has come back!
But I can’t see the dog.
I want to see the dog.
I want to see that he’s happy he won,
even though he didn’t know there was a contest,
even though he might not be a he,
I want to know he loves his owner, even though
I am assuming all this, I assume things, I assume, I do.
I assume he’s a he, I assume his owner loves him,
I assume my friend is coming back,
(milk, she said, just milk).
The man in the truck sits head down, cap down,
rolling a smoke, or checking his phone but
something’s not right. I watch.
I see the stripe on what I think is the man’s cap
turn into the collar on the dog,
and I realize it’s the dog in the truck, not a man in the truck,
it’s still the dog, like it’s still me, waiting,
only he moved over to the driver’s seat. If he’s a he.
I’ve confused a dog and a man. Oh god, I think,
I’m getting carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty heat vent,
but that’s when my friend gets back in the car
with milk, bread, jello, toothpaste, laundry soap.
She begins a story about some guy at the checkout counter
as she backs the car away from the dog
and the truck and the doors and I’m suddenly sad now,
that churned-up-torn-inside-the-chest-feeling sad
because we’re leaving and I wish I hadn’t won,
I wish he’d won, but he didn’t, I won,
and he might not be a he, and I keep twisting, looking
back, hoping for a glimpse of the owner,
but no one’s walking toward the dog in the truck
who could get carbon monoxide poisoning,
and there’s nothing I can do
but watch as long as I can,
because I need to know that he’s all right,
because we were the same back there,
we were the same.
“14 Degrees Below Zero in the Grocery Store Parking Lot” by Hayden Saunier from How to Wear This Body. Terrapin Books © 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®