Making Money: Drought Year in Minkler, California

by Gary Soto

Gary Soto

“It’s a ’49,” Rhinehardt said, and slammed
The screen door, then worked his way around
The dog turds in the yard
To the Buick gutted from fire—the gears
Teething rust, the fenders sloped
Like the shoulders of a fired worker
Out of beer. He circled the car
Kicking the tires, eyeing
The grille that still grinned the ribbed wings
Of a sparrow. He looked inside and flies
Lifted like patted dust, settling
Into a loose knot on the visor.
“Yeh, you’re right as right ... it’s a ’50,”
Rhinehardt spat, his tongue rolling
A false tooth into place. “It’s got no
Running board.” He pressed a buck
Into his son’s hand and retired to the porch
Where he towel-flicked
His wife from a chair
And as evening came on watched beyond
The street, a kennel of trees,
Where—as he had dreamed—a plane would drop
And bloom fire. Two bucks on that one.

Last updated August 19, 2022