ADVENT

 

One early evening, in France, my wife
and I mistook the direction of a bus,
boarded, and rode until it emptied.
Idling in place, the driver waved us
forward to name our destination.
With gestures, he said that his shift
had ended, his bus scheduled to be
garaged nowhere near that address.
“You wait here,” he said in English,
“quinze minutes,” closing the doors.

By now, each of the last passengers
to disembark had disappeared. Nearby,
three dumpsters, a stripped skeleton
of a car poised as if collection was
expected. So isolated, the apartments
seemed to have been erected
as if a neighborhood would follow.
Their shadows groped for us, twilight
speeding from tangerine to purple.

Young men loitered where a bench
and shelter were a makeshift lounge.
The driver, we understood, had dropped
us at a stop sign, sparing juxtaposition.
From behind the apartments, a plane
struggled into the sky. Just before
quinze minutes had passed, every
shadow was devoured by sunset.

From the opposite way, a bus labored
uphill so slowly it promised breakdown.
Each seat was deserted. The driver
shook his head at our English.
What we did was lean forward from
the seat behind him, fixed upon
the wish to travel into our recent past
of restaurants, shops, and light.

What we settled for was the bus filling
with a flush of English, a possible end
to our deadlock with reasonable doubt,
a story so commonplace it could
fill every general admission seat,
no matter the size of the stadium.

Listen, early this morning, along
our street, someone in a logoed van
emptied shopping bags of groceries
onto the front porches of our houses,
arranging them like laboratory samples.
From our angle, they glowed as if
insulated with light. We waited for hours
to touch them. We handled the produce
as if it were smeared with a sheen
of malignancy measured by its half-life,
made radioactive by foreign infection.

 

Gary Fincke is the author of numerous books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. His poetry collections include The History of Permanence (winner of the Stephen F. Austin Poetry Prize) and The Infinity Room (winner of the Wheelbarrow Books/Michigan State University Press Prize for Established Poets). His latest fiction collection is Nothing Falls from Nowhere (Stephen F. Austin, 2021).

Table of Contents | Next Page