Old Lady on a Plane
I wish to go beyond the nervous small talk
with the old lady sitting next to me on the plane
who has an Italian accent and talks about her garden.
I have a garden so I ask her about tomato plants
and she looks around before whispering
about coffee grounds she never throws away
along with egg shells and the inedible
parts of vegetables all mixed together and spread
around her plants. What about the insects, I ask.
She looks off toward the flight attendant who has
a hard smile for a large man blocking her refreshment
cart. The man relents and moves sideways like
a crab back to his undersized seat. The thing
about insects, she tells me, is that they don’t eat much.
She smiles, proud that she has mastered English
and she rambles on about how there is no meat
on pizza in Italy, and now I feel my smile hardening
since I never intended the conversation to last this long
but it serves us well as the turbulence is ignored
and time flies by and I’m thinking of all that goes along
with the knowledge this old grandmother has told me,
the consequences she never bothers to whisper
like the vermin her garden must attract. She tells me that
nothing is wasted and she even throws orange peels
into the garden mix and says the coffee grounds keep ants
off the plants and yes, regular coffee works better than
decaf. I can smell the coffee the flight attendant
is pouring for the attractive lady in the business suit
across the aisle that I would never talk to except for
the obligatory good morning to open possibilities
that can only be shared by strangers paying no heed
to consequences, the unfathomable layers of words
like silvery chords frozen in blue, fading slowly
like vapor trails through a fallow sky.
Through Such Blue
I ride my bicycle on the slippery stone sidewalk
after a summer rain, past the town doctor
sitting on his front porch reading the newspaper.
I smell the dirty brick street from mist rising
from yellow ingots and think it odd that I remember
this one ride after the rain now that I’m old in comparison
to when my red bicycle took me everywhere I could
dream, from whitewater rivers to steamy jungles,
through a sky so blue that I ache thinking of that silent
glide through a mute town. It’s quiet after the rain.
The dark clouds are followed by white galleons dragging
shadows like weightless anchors. No one speaks to me because
I cannot hear them. I do not remember ever hearing them;
who would stop to listen through such blue.
WILLIAM R. STODDART lives in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, USA. His work has been published in Fast Forward Press, 34th Parallel, Ruminate Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, and The Pittsburgh Quarterly Online.