Why this?

The occasional piece of my own and a generous helping of others' creations I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seat Mate

I hate the way the inside of his nostrils twitch.
How they open wider as he leans forward,
holding the ice cream treat--his Its-It
in two plump swelling hands;
his short thick fingers curving to catch the drips.
He hunches his shoulders
and his square neck disappears--
all of his face falling deep into vanilla cream.
I am moved by my seat mate;
the way he flosses his teeth
in front of me. I'd like to
shoot this man, his veined and hairy
legs, his right arm exploding
over to my side of the seat.
I hear kissing noises
as he cleans his mouth with Listerine,
spits it into a paper cup.
He sports a stained multicolored jacket
on our flight from Boston to St. Paul.
How can I hate so readily
a man I don't even know?
Despise the elbow that jabs me regularly,
loathe the cloying way he keeps attempting conversation,
alternately talking to himself and then,
the video screen above our heads.
He wipes his mouth with a magazine,
seems to enjoy the friction it creates.
And by now I am fascinated with his ways.
How he pushes silver aviator glasses
up the slide of his nose. Hums as if
he's almost happy. And what is it he sees
sitting next to him? A woman in leather jacket
and jeans scratching notes in judgment of a stranger?
What does it mean to hate so readily? To burn with it?
The crumbs in his crotch, the bright pink skin,
a gold plated medallion and matching ring.
Is there any way to love
his body, to shift my shoulder on to the center
armrest, lean into his sleeve and say
"So where did you start today? Connecticut?
Vermont?" Our conversation would wander
until I could meet his gaze
unrevulsed. I'd smile into his blue-gray eyes,
touch his salt and pepper hair,
and put everything else behind us, clear away.
But I can't. Instead, I am silent as we cross
mountains, wheat fields, waterways. While Warren Beatty
tangos Annette Benning on some Technicolor island.
And when we de-plane I pray he's not headed for gate C3.
I move purposefully, knowing it is pitiful to be elated;
so pathetic to think I'm free.

--Susan Rich

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