Barbecue smell drifts over from the river.
Too much lighter fluid splashed in the pouring.
Flares of sudden fire. Parkland.
Given: a family, Dad home on leave. The kids lead him
by the hand, showing him off, he’s theirs. And Mom
fully reclined on the blanket, angers and anxieties
pushed aside, even evaporated. Brief oasis
self. On her shoulders
lotion makes windows of sheen.
Gluts of garbage blowing around,
a subtle stink in the weeds.
The happiness of that other family.
That time in the Atlanta airport, all the soldiers
in their desert combat fatigues, deploying,
redeploying, loping along with their big boots stuck out front
like clown shoes, like goose feet, down the concourse.
The man on the loudspeaker asking us to stand and applaud
for our heroes;
me frozen trying to think out what,
if I clapped, I’d be clapping for.
A woman with a collapsed face, to the soldier nearest the gate,
Thank you for your sacrifice. My family is a military family.
He, like a little boy, sullen, blank, bored…
The faces of the other passengers formatted to show
they understand everything.
Which looks like happiness.
And what has happened to us.
Goose gangs loiter, obstructing the bike path,
pumping their neck pipes.
There’s all the food thrown by the picnickers
and left by the picnickers
and all the food the river brings
with its floods and slithers of algae.
Life is so good here. The geese never fly south.