Parking meters,

still the soldiers of urban islands,

guarding identical squares

of oil spotted cement for timeshare.

I hate them except when they’re broken.

Then they make my day.

Shouldn’t a small concrete rectangle

with no view

be free like the air we breathe?

I shove in my quarters

and instantly feel hurried.

I never think Put in a few extra

so you can take your time.

People without urgency

find other ways.

Instead I think of Lovely Rita

the meter maid

with her little white book

and military cap

who could leave an envelope

on my windshield if I’m late,


she must be into her eighties by now.

It’s the urban drivers’ ritual,

not to be erased by new LCD screens,

modern credit card modules,

or phone app capacity.

It’s still Rita who gives the final nod.

First published by Selcouth Station Sept. 15, 2020