Other People’s Possessions
Sitting on a straight-backed wooden chair moved from the kitchen table to the living room beside an open window facing west, the sitter’s face is half-hidden by an evening shadow rendering features vague if not unrecognizable. Hands clasp, unclasp, clasp, feet flat to the floor.
A book lies open, facedown on the hardwood floor. Next to it, a tipped over glass.
From outside the window, a sound; it’s nothing. Nobody is looking out nor does anyone look in. Just rain tapping the sill. In the far corner a bulging cardboard box of unpacked books, red, blue, green, all colors. Years of dust has collected on the top books.
In five hours it will be Wednesday. In eleven hours, daybreak.
Originally priced at two dollars, designated by a yellow peel-off sticker, lengthy negotiation wasn’t required to buy the chair for a dollar. The early Saturday morning weather was overcast and getting cold with a possibility of rain or snow, and the idea of having to move all the estate sale furniture out of the front yard and back under cover was unappealing. It is not unlikely the chair, an unremarkable yet sturdy dark brown armless piece made of solid wood, could have been acquired for fifty cents, but a dollar seemed a fair price. It would be put in the kitchen, in a far corner, to help fill up the sparsely furnished room. It didn’t match the chairs around the table, but would be a repository to hang a jacket, place a book, set a bag of groceries, and it only cost a buck. When the woman managing the sale bent over to carry the chair to the buyer’s pickup, he could see all the way down the inside front of her scoop-neck sweatshirt.
Winter and snow came in a few days but the front yard was barren.
Where Apples Land
And Butterflies Go To Die
Grabs an apple—red--from the bowl,
grips it as though it were a baseball,
flips it once, twice in the air
only half looking at it while rubbing
the back of his neck with his free hand.
After two tosses he takes a reckless bite,
deep, to the core.
(It’s a young man’s game, tossing
and chomping from a near-ripe apple…)
Discards it, forcefully throwing the
once-bitten fruit against a near-corner wall.
It hits the left corner and ricochets
to the right leaving juice splotches
on the flowered wallpaper, landing
on the hardwood floor in three pieces.
Heading outside to his pickup, he is
still chewing a mouthful of apple.
And the air is black, quite black.
The place where butterflies go to die.
They don’t die in woods or jungles;
jungles gone dead long ago.
After forty days they die
in a place with black air.
Their wings waft once then fold.
An Affair To Remember
Didn’t mind garlic on her breath—
hadn’t seen her for so long.
A hug; there was more to grasp
than before but didn’t mind that,
So much time had gone by.
Sitting together on the bench,
shoulders touching. Hips, too.
She gifts him a lychee nut
and he wants to eat it immediately
but she says No. Eat it later.
He is used to that.
He wants to say something memorable
that she can recall
later with fondness
but all that comes out are platitudes.
She says nothing memorable either
but doesn’t have to.
Her husband is nearby.
There is not much else to be said.
Later, alone, his hand turns the lychee nut
over and over between his fingers.
Brief Bio: Gene McCormick has invented a reptilian Viagara for Dead Snakes (necessity being the mother of invention).