On the back road to the drive-in
out on the highway,
an old railroad man
living in a cabin small as my bedroom
spent his days building purple martin houses
and his summer evenings sitting out
in a rickety-looking kitchen chair
waving at passing cars
and watching the martins emerge at dusk
from their pole-top penthouses
to devour the myriad mosquitoes
whose season matched that of the drive-in.

We were eager for our treats
(small cones in most cases,
the dime chocolate dip now and then),
but dad would often slow, sometimes stop,
to wave back at the railroad man
and watch the birds circle and swoop
after their airborne dinner.
If the angle was just right
and the sunset flashed off their wings,
the whining in the back seat
would occasionally stop
and we would join in the awe.

When mosquito season ended,
so did ice cream season.
The man who owned the drive-in
would close up his summer trailer
behind the building,
hop in his pink Cadillac Coupe de Ville
(who knew that nickels and dimes
could add up that fast?!)
and drive to his winter home in Florida,
while the martins headed for South America
and other winged feasts.
We and the old railroad man
would move inside,
awaiting spring and the return
of birds, mosquitoes, the drive-in man.