The garbage truck is late by about six minutes this morning. When it finally rounds the cul-de-sac, I let out a breath I don’t remember holding. There they go. Two men in green vests and black beards jump off and grab the two black bags I’d left by my mailbox. Just like every Monday morning. They strangle the plastic necks around their fingers and fling them - Bag 1, Bag 2 - into the back of the truck. Are they curious about the contents of our trash? Could there ever be, they might wonder, anything other than the quotidian discharge of suburban life, stuffed and asphyxiated under the tight puckers of red plastic knots? Well they won’t find anything in my receptacles, even if they looked. Nothing to incriminate me - egg cartons, empty milk jugs, rags, ripped mail, chip bags, condom wrappers - generic, benign garbage.
Here they go, again. Moving on to the next house over, the dull Duncans, who always manage to find the flimsiest bags to hold their garbage. Where do they get these bags? Stiff, friable, rippable. I wasted too much time digging through my old trash to find a bag that would fit in with their pile. But that’s all right. The gain is greater than the loss. Mwah, pucker up, kiss me goodbye. It’s Monday.
I’d slow down to count
Drips of sigh precipitating ennui,
Typify all the reasons for wishing to leave
In a tidy list ad tedium.
I’d learn to miss the people I saw
The old-jokers, the same-thingers, the daily
I’d try putting less salt in homecooked meals
And then try more salt
Tease the nuances of a species
Before buying the exotic genus
Off a silken menu.
If I actually escaped every time I wanted to,
I’d probably end up realizing I should
They’re all gathered around me. The books with their paper backs and hard covers and commercial ink, lined up together in boldface solidarity. And me with my Hb #2 graphite smears in the newspaper margin, my neighbor a half-assed Sudoku counting its empty boxes. It’s just as nihilistic as I am.
They seethe at me, they hate me, wondering what right I have to sit on this same table. “You’re just scribbles. You’ll never amount to anything.”
And if I had the guts to say what I wanted, I’d tell them that’s how we all start. But I’m gutless and without substance. I am only two brief sentences, not enough to promise and not enough to show.
I am unfinished. I am only a
i guess i always expected more, growing up. which is funny because people always told me and i’ve been convinced, myself, that i was born cynical. but the biggest pessimist is just the biggest optimist disappointed. maybe i never gave it a chance, or not for long enough. maybe the world is still warm and people still love each other and food is still pure and the glaciers are frozen solid and we don’t have to squeeze through the slits of bureaucratic fissures and yeah i can go on, yeah, sure. but the next person will remind me to lower my expectations and grow up. this is life and it’s not as bad as i make it out to be, nothing is as dramatic as it plays out in the mind. and i guess i feel pretty immature, especially when i have to fight that temper-tantrumous impulse to step up really close to them and remind them, in the form of a question, oh don’t they remember none of us get to stay here forever?
Why does she always find herself seated at this desk at midnight after days of happy-go-lucky sunny-side-up easy-spirit carefree caffeinated buoyancy, counting the things that make her smile and staring at two pitiful fists the size of a heart too small for life and love and compassion because when fingers bear the burden of signification hers don’t move, can’t move, too stiff and too tired from clutching on to nothing for so long that the inertia of pettiness is just too much to overcome?