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There is a certain time
When the climate falls on these things:
The leaves of autumn are crisped and ignited;
Large chunks of grass die, unveiling
The mangled roots of Everything
(And honoring them the decency of
Only a few brushes of cold dirt);
Spicy wind stings noses and ears;
Pumpkins with their faces and brains cut out
Clog the air in protest
Of the rotting effect of time.
And it is during this time
That people forget their tenacity
And their fortitude,
And it is during this time
That they need it most.
In order to battle the negativity
That this season so swiftly brings,
People attempt to bear neutrality.
Mistakenly, they pick apathy,
So they abandon their imaginary lovers,
They cancel their prior engagements,
They divorce subjectivity.
And when the seemingly everlasting sunlight
(The thing that kept people awake at night)
Disobeys and disappears,
They dutifully replace it with disco balls
And blankets of Bibles.
Over time, these people grow so nervous
Of their accustomedness to these seasonal fillers
That they hallucinate their own emptiness—
As a result, God receives many requests.
He looks to the migrating birds
And wrongly answers, “HOME VISITS,”
For who better to heal problems than a family?
I sat in an overstuffed airport chair,
Watching the fragile first snow of the season
Pollute the wind,
And contemplating how stupid, stupid, stupid
I was for listening to Him
And how toxic, toxic, toxic
Visiting my estranged parents would be for my health.
But it felt so safe to exchange
One worn-out familiarity for another.
I eyed a person, who I practically knew,
One whose exact façade
Had disgusted me many times before.
Lord, please don’t seat that LIBERAL ARTS STUDENT
Next to me on the Freaking Plane.
The Student shoved his large fingers through his hair
(Shining, unbrushed, upper middle-class hair),
While he pretended to enjoy the arcane philosophical novel
Which he held by his hickey-and-scarf-covered neck.
He slyly smiled at me.
I rolled my eyes and huffed.
The Student loved trust funds, pool sides, poker;
He pretended to love literature, women, cheap coffee.
I gawked at him again
(Despite the superfluous money,
His chin and cheeks
Were worthy of magazine covers).
My eyes hit his,
But he refused to look away.
Imaginary, hot vomit accumulated in my stomach,
Ready to erupt at the sight
Of his Blackberry and skinny jeans.
I blinded myself with a repelling, trashy novel
That would have forced him arrogant tears
Had he courage enough to condescend to me.
An overdone, thirty-five-year-old LAWYER
Whose makeup could have easily
Been chipped off her ticking face
Completed the chair next to mine.
Her obvious loneliness
Reminded me of the inadequacies of life.
She carried on just one purse;
She wasn’t staying for very long
At the place where she was going.
She worked fifty-five hours per week,
And made an effort not to care.
She wore Goodwill clothes and Gucci shoes
On her regretfully non-maternal body
(Carried off with Marvelous Magenta lipstick).
She couldn’t clean, loved cooking, hated shopping.
She had mountains of money in her bank account
And used her second generation immigrant status
As an excuse not to spend it.
She was saving for something that she didn’t know yet,
She was saving
Because she desperately wanted to want anything.
The sight of the MOTHER subverted her daze.
The Mother defined herself as nothing else.
The Lawyer watched the Mother
With a desperation to feel something,
While I watched the Mother
With an urge to know something.
She had big hair and a big nose,
“What a pretty face.”
Her own mother had died
And left her with a prophecy
To become everything she had lacked.
She had exactly one baby girl,
Whose endless smiles endlessly delighted her.
This baby, Asha,
Whose name meant “Life”
And whose Life meant everything to her mother;
Who never had to work for affection
But had to handle the burden
Of being loved so hard.
The Mother tickled her feet,
Played with her hair.
She held her baby tightly
On an instinctive whim,
(Trying to make her infinitely close
Trying to exchange their love on a breath
Trying to protect Asha from Life).
An OLD MAN sat across from the Mother.
His knowledge of Life extended hers,
And he wanted nothing more
Than to tell her that It Was Going To Be Okay,
And Isn’t It Silly that
She was supposed to worry about these things
But they didn’t really matter?
He wore a ring on the third finger of each of his hands.
What capable fixing hands
That had saved so many things from destruction.
He was a soldier for half a year,
Leaving when his left leg was nearly destroyed.
But he returned with renewed devotion
To his soon-to-be wife and their almost child.
I felt my body halfway convulse
In a discharge of thanks and sorrow at him.
His faith was weathered,
But hardly debilitated,
In spite of the karmic pause in his consideration.
He laid a pretend fixing hand in the Mother’s,
And then the Lawyer’s,
Then in the Student’s,
(Whose ignorance demanded the most redemption)
And let go.
The regrets of these people,
Of whom the valiant were unrewarded
And the meek were overpaid,
Bothered my chest so hotly
And I couldn’t exhale without trying
Not to transport theoretical tears
From my brain to my eyes.
Although this aching killed my apathy,
At the same time (in the same season),
It contained neither fear nor shame.
I put on my sunglasses and tied my shoes,
Feeling comfortably unnatural in my mindset,
And boarded that Freaking Plane.
I was been cured of autumn:
I savored every emotion
That provoked me during the flight.
We took off together,
And we landed together,
And we denied it together,
And I remembered it alone.