Filling Up


I fill my mother with air from the gas station

pump, four quarters strong.


I wash her back in gasoline and oil, curl

her hair over bolts with a wrench


the way she wore an old shower cap tucked

over pink rollers and a bathrobe to school


when a boy tried to kiss me on the playground.

She made sure to walk me to the front steps,


cold cream and all, with the bell ringing

and that boy waiting just to say,


my daughter will look like me when she’s old.


I stand at the sink and rouge, pluck strays that

beg at my chin, color the greys


that have tinseled and still she says,

propped in the backseat, keep living, girl.


There is still room in the tank.



Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Award Winner, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera. She is an Editor at The Comstock Review and you can find her work at