Saturday, July 15, 2017

As Observed from a Stationary Picnic Table

Julia asked me why I didn’t come there anymore
to eat my lunch on the picnic table beside the statue
of Albert Einstein, each wild hair on his head
a masterpiece in marble, though clearly I was there
now—or then. Was it, she asked, that I felt lesser
than, in his presence, me eating a tuna salad
sandwich before going back to my job delivering
boxed wine to high-rise shut-ins on my bicycle,
while Al had been captured in stone juggling
the solar system between his hands? No, I said,
I think he would’ve been happy to sit here with me
and share a sandwich and slip a straw into a box
of Californian rosé meant for Eunice Carver
of 94D Park Place, and I think we would have talked
about the violin which I also played when I
was young and the way the Yankees have tanked
again, and I would have gently explained to him
that whistling at the women walking by us
on the street isn’t done anymore. Fair enough,
he might have said, but I am still doing it in my head—
that’s still okay, I hope, imagining a universe in my head
where just one time Marilyn Monroe responds
to my catcall and comes over to run her fingers
through my hair? I said that I hoped so, too,
and told him how sometimes when I was weaving
my bike through traffic I imagined myself chasing
a beam of light while pedaling at the speed of light,
no longer content to stand on the platform or sit
at a picnic table (this to Julia, who said she had a straw,
if that’s what it took) but standing at the front of the train
with my head out the window where the light would strike first.

(first published in Poetry Northwest, 2017)

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