Bio Note: I am an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand, and Floyd County Moonshine.
Sunday In The City
Dawn once more, burnishing old brick, piercing shut windows. The sun comes back again, but without the hubbub, the overpowering din. So quiet out, so still, it’s my reward for a succession of days too much alike. If there’s to be a sound, I will have to make it. If anything’s to move, I’ll need to slip on my shoes, step out. I do just that. At the top of the stoop, even when doing nothing, I’m livelier than the rest of the street. Before me is a neighborhood of virgin concrete, flocculent sky. And, unlike at night, it’s the houses, the stores, the park, that are much in evidence, and the light that’s invisible. World-to-myself euphoric, I stroll two blocks, get coffee and newspaper at the one place open. On an outdoor table, other places unfold, but none are as kind to people as this. A sparrow sings from high in a nearby branch. That’s the only other life I’d consider worth my living.
The flight attendants are strapped in. They are no longer rushing up and down the aisles, attending to every need of first class, slamming overhead bins, calming two crying children, in economy. For now, they are all one of us, cuffed by seatbelt, very much alone. The airplane is in a line at the top of the runway. Three jets are in front of us. We slowly roll forward. Stop again. Roll forward. Stop again. But the plane has had enough of waiting. No more rolling. It’s time for a full-on charge. Engines set free, we zoom down that tarmac like a dragster, the scraps of scenery flung backward, as my hands grip the armrests, so I don’t join them. Will this jet take off? Will we crash into the nearby houses? And, if we do get off the ground, will winds shake us like loan sharks after their dough? We all have our own fears and there’s no way to share them. We’re like peas in a pod. But with no two touching.
Family Dinner, RSVP
Mark me absent from the family dinner, that ritual of overcooked food, stale jokes and tidbits gleaned from talk radio, punctuated with boorish laughter, coughing fits and loud belching. I won’t be around for that trial before self-appointed judges to defend where I live, what I earn, the company I keep. I’ve had enough of bowing down to aunts and uncles, sipping cheap wine, breaking bread, in a kind of unholy communion. And my unmarried trio of second cousins can try their cackling “hubble, bubble, toil and trouble routine” on some other poor fool. So make that one less heirloom china plate on the blue cerulean table cloth. One less setting of dainty silverware. Allow me to be cynical, jaundiced, along with impolite and ungrateful. I get it. We’re family. We share the same blood. But then so do the pigs and the butchers in a slaughterhouse.
©2023 John Grey
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