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December 6, 2020 32 min

 

Joe and Marge at the Movies

They were getting old and they didn't even know it. Joe smiled like the crowsfeet and the false teeth and the double chin didn't show--- weren't there. Marge walked just like the base of her neck didn't bow up and hump down into her spine--- just like the index and middle fingers of her right hand weren't twisting slowly, year by year as the knuckles grew to the size of chestnuts. Joe held that hand when they strolled down the aisle to find their seats, bought popcorn that they put between them, placing their hands in the sack together, later, fighting playfully over the last kernels. And as the movie progressed, Joe slid his arm behind Marge's thin shoulders, resting the crook of his elbow around her crooked back like they were made to fit like that. At the end of the show Joe would grin big as a kid or maybe cry and, either way, Marge would stretch over with her tiny face and kiss his chin, the touch soft as the muzzle of a colt. They would leave slowly, reluctant as lovers at the end of a long-awaited first date, wanting to stretch it out, wanting it not to end, waiting to see all the credits, hear the very last note of the closing overture,

                   remarking that movies are just too short.

 

Jay

Jay used to ride around Lincoln NE

with a little empty child-seat

on the back of his bike.

 

He told me once

that it wasn't the divorce that

bothered him,

it was her moving to New York,

taking little Toby with her.

 

I always think of Jay

that way---

riding around town with a

little empty child-seat.

 

While Waiting in the Cafeteria Of Bradshaw Public School for A Meeting, I Check My Watch Once More Before Allowing Myself to Become Distracted

 

It's a very small cafeteria, I'm thinking,

but it's a small town---

These must be kindergartners in here

doing their Art,

they're so small.

 

One boy talks loudest--- he is bigger

than all the rest.

He is coloring a map of the U.S.

and now I think these may not be

kindergartners and maybe this is Social Studies,

not Art.

 

My country's purple... he's saying

and his country fits neatly on the 8 1/2 X 11

dittoed sheet he pinches proudly

in his raised hand---

his country looks good in

purple.

 

Now the children have left me

with my cup of coffee and watching

one of the cafeteria ladies place

the ketchup dispensers, spacing them evenly

across the fold-out tables,

preparing for lunch

and the squeeze bottle she sets beside me

has a picture of a 1950's housewife

dancing, the brand name,

SQEEZE-Ezy

in box-letters beneath.

 

I haven't seen a Squeeze-Ezy bottle

since I was 5 and with my parents

at Ideal Cafe' back home---

 

and suddenly I am 5

and thinking my world might fit

on an 8 1/2 X 11 sheet

and somehow maybe I do

have the power in one hand

to pull out of the box the best color

for the whole place;

and maybe if I had a hairnet like

this cafeteria lady's, her slate curls pulled,

contained, held tightly in place,

maybe one that keeps my head

inside the lines,

keeps me from always hurling myself

to the far ends of the universe---

holds me focused,

wraps the whole complicated mess

into a clearly labeled Crayola wrapper,

then I could make some kind of Art

with it.

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