The People I Am Closest To
By Owen Doyle
The woman beside me opens her hand,
knowing, unmistakably, something I donít.
Conversations ripple by,
and all their drifts escape me. The trip
along these tracks stops and starts, constantly.
Its legs are unannounced, without
departure or arrival time. None of its distances
is measured in miles. The movement feels
wholly lateral, a fitful shaking as if
to wake me. My ticketís hard for me to read, but
I figure where Iím headed, the couple
in the facing seats are headed that way, too.
They chat together in waves, their eyes never turning
to meet. Their conversation ebbs
from words to formless sound, and back. I catch
a verb or noun — or imagine it — and try
to piece the fragments into sense. But when
I look at other travelers, it all goes strange again.
The woman beside me turns to speak, opening
her sun-lit hand to show —
or offer — these fragile, scalloped, prismatic
shards. I think she knows Iím lost, and I guess
she is trying to explain what they are,
or where they came from, something
about tidewater, or a musical instrument.
Or birds. A far cry from what I understand.
Copyright © 2020 by Owen Doyle.