Red Umbrella In The Rain
Impressive, a round umbrella
spanning one-and-a-half people
as shelter from pattering rain.
And red! Not bright red, but red
with deep scalloped edges arched
like tunnels and tines arcing
to the apex of such tunnels.
It speaks élan with its circumference,
red covering, ebony shaft
and highly-grained wood handle.
Sidewalk passersby make do with small
fold-up black polyester umbrellas,
some with prints of ducks or fish;
a few hold a soggy newspaper overhead.
Hoodies are raised and tied.
In a jostling crowd the red nylon disc
is safe harbor,
keeping things as they are not.
Rite Of Passage
Landscape crew arrives first week in May,
not to sculpt the yard or do plantings
but to clear winter’s fallen debris
and mow the yard, turned from brown
to green and patchy dandelion yellow.
Sweaty hands, some with fingers missing,
reach for the offer of cool bottled water.
English not spoken; smiles and nods.
Push mowers haven’t been used in the
neighborhood for decades, not for trimming,
not for nothing.
Everything is motorized, gas fueled,
taking a tenth or less the time
of manual equipment at 10x the noise
as the harbinger of spring
stamps an old man’s rite of passage:
grass and time is short.
Power equipment loaded on the rickety trailer,
the crew drives off, engine oil smoke
covering the scent of new mown grass.
Good while it lasted.
Walking up and down the short sidewalk
in front of the library, she’s on her cell phone
holding a sheet of white paper in her
free hand. She looks down, straight ahead,
talks continually, nodding and smiling.
What’s up with the paper?
Waving it for emphasis, the breeze
blows it about her wrist but she doesn’t let go.
Tired of pacing, she sits on a bench designed
to be uncomfortable but she has some padding
so keeps the cell conversation going,
wafting and shaking the paper,
looking absently across the parking lot.
What is she doing with the sheet of paper?
The sheet would blow off if she
were to set it on the bench so she
squeezes it between thumb and forefinger,
occasionally resting her hand in her lap.
She is wearing Bermuda shorts
and her legs are pale. So are her arms.
Her face is, too.
As the late summer temperature cools,
she gets up, an imprint from the bench
on the back of her thighs below her shorts,
ends the conversation and folds the paper
twice, sticks it in her back pocket
and walks off.
BRIEF BIO: Gene McCormick is a child prodigy who recently celebrated his sixth birthday. He cried when he couldn’t blow out the half-dozen trick candles, but became very happy when his nanny gave him a birthday spanking.