Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Sidewalk Ode, Irregular

So today was a stupid day. I hate being sick and I hate calling in to work, but I did what I had to do. So I went to the doctor and came home and took a good four hour nap. No complaints there. I finally got my pajama-wearing self into the car with my big list of medicines to take (something else I hate) and headed to Walgreen's. I wandered around in my stuffed-up haze for a while but I finally got my stuff and got out. When I got back in the car there was a handwritten note tucked under my windshield wiper that read, "Your back right tyre is flat." Sure enough, it was flat as a pancake.

What to do? I have no spare. My husband is out of town until tonight and I have few friends on my side of town so I couldn't very well call anyone. I tried a couple people anyway but they didn't answer, which was no surprise since it was during working hours. I spotted a cab driving by and called the number. I sat on hold forever. So I thought fuck it, I'm walking. I was wearing flip flops but I just happened to have a pair of real shoes in the back seat.

It kinda sucked because it was unexpected and the urban landscape was less than inviting, but it gave me a good hour in which to ponder the mysteries of life, encounter some interesting sights, and think of this poem. On the way, I was accosted by all manner of sounds and smells, honked at (twice), stared at, nearly hit by cars at every intersection, and offered a ride by an old man in a truck, which I politely declined. Although I was grumpy and feeling sick, it was nice to get a pedestrian's perspective of my busy neighborhood.  The title of this poem is ironic, now that I think about it, because there was actually no sidewalk for at least half of the two-mile trek.  Instead there were footpaths worn down by the hundreds of people who walk the route every day.

A Sidewalk Ode, Irregular

This ho-hum landscape of parking-lot trees
Brings me to my knees, where the gravel stings
And the fried chicken air lingers heavy.

None so fair and fares so well
As the fearless grackle who feasts
On parking lot pommes frites;
And lest we o’erlook the panhandler’s stealth,
Whose leathery skin and eyes of pain
Reliably paper-covered cans obtain.

This underworld, yes, right under this world—
The one we set on top—so easy to ignore.
Yet curious stop light eyes will scan,
Against the will of any man,
And search for a bit of soul.
But green lights go and before you know,
We’re released from the grip of the wild.