Prolonged exposure to death Has made my friend quieter. Now his nose is less like a hatchet And more like a snuffler. Flames don't erupt from his mouth anymore And life doesn't crack his thermometer. Instead of overthrowing the government He reads fly-fishing catalogues And takes photographs of water. An
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Coming and Going
My marriage ended in an airport long ago. I was not wise enough to cry while looking for my car, walking through the underground garage; jets were roaring overhead, and if I had been wise I would have looked up at those heavy-bellied cylinders and seen the wheelchairs and the frightened dogs inside; the kidneys bedded in dry ice and Styrofoam containers. I would have known that in synagogues and churches all over town couples were gathering like flocks of geese getting ready to take off, while here the jets were putting down their gear, getting ready for the jolt, the giant tires shrieking and scraping off two long streaks of rubber molecules, that might have been my wife and I, screaming in our fear. It is a matter of amusement to me now, me staggering around that underground garage, trying to remember the color of my vehicle, unable to recall that I had come by cab— eventually gathering myself and going back inside, quite matter-of-fact, to get the luggage I would be carrying for the rest of my life.