There was a puppet show at the gas station the other night.
Bundled figures waiting for their fill of molten motion
jerked awkwardly up and down like solitary, clumsy marionettes
on the blue-cold stage, puffing fog in involuntary rhythm
with some 80s one-hit wonder as they tried just to feel again
the sensation lost from their pink hands. Under the hypothermic
fluorescent spotlights, I think the puppets almost saw in each other
a hint of the intimate absurdity of the situation
we all are in. You should have seen it, because I know you
would have laughed with your eyes
squeezed shut like twin, snapping apertures,
and I would have wordlessly watched you
as your shutter-like reflex, your need
to capture existence, took you away from me
for that split second while you processed what you saw.
And later you would have developed the image
of the cold, tragic forms in the dark-
room, locking yourself away from the light
until the sketchy shapes of white and black solidifed,
finally, just the way your pictures always turn out:
a little dark, a little hazy, never glossy.
And in the shadows of some drizzly dawn,
you would have dredged the memory
from a musty album in your mind,
perhaps the thick volume marked “Loneliness,”
and projected it briefly from your grainy grey eyes
as you laughed yourself away in the rain.
(From the series of Creative Writing class assignments.)