I saw him—a less than mediocre salesman
grey suit, briefcase,
waiting by suburban bus stop in light rain.
He paunched, breathed miasma
of last night’s scotch poured into Bud cans
by TV light.
Tinny cheers for the losing team.
I was out of view.
The skies hung low, water puddled
at our feet after two days’ rain.
Having ditched school,
I sucked at damp coat-pocket roaches,
inhaled ash of e-z wider.
My salesman looked down, then fastened
his attention on something small
He fixed on it, started forward,
paused, looked round cunningly.
Thinking himself unviewed, he paddled to the street
and scooped it up. What was it?
Five dollar bill? Scratch ticket? Wedding ring?
He rolled the cuff of his jacket back and reached
then turned and flung an arc towards safe fields.
The treasure writhed like a thick shoelace.
He repeated the action and I saw
he was saving worms.
Worm flinger, I should have taken your hand:
we should have ridden the number 45,
then boarded a Greyhound West and South.
I was just old enough not to get you arrested—
in most states, anyway. We should have ridden
through three days and three nights
across the border to where beer is very cheap
and sand warm. We might have forgotten how birds
devour worms and good salesmen devour suckers.
Surely there’s still a place beyond their reach
where we might fling stingless jellyfish into waves,
liberate lobsters, get a little high below the stars?
Oonagh C. Doherty