‘Commodity’ and other drabbles
By: Ken Poyner
Fog is so thick at one end of the bridge, it looks like cars are escaping both into and from it. Fog is apolitical, amoral. Fog itself does not matter, only the purposes it is put to. When it is cut like this at the bridge into a sheet, Quibble imagines it could be spooned up and its special leniency distributed, like ice in ice-boxes. If he could license the process, he is sure every home could use a natural phenomenon through which the day’s emotions could pass, without judgement, and emerge on the other side as new and unfastened.
There is a girl skinny-dipping in this lake. In her early or mid-teens, an age Quibble confuses, but at which he should not look. He had stopped and wandered, led this way by wildflowers, thinking he would pick a surprise for his wife. They drew him here, to watch a bare girl slip through the water, snake to shallows to stand in thigh deep stillness. He suspects she has no idea she might be seen. Her casual angles are the granaries of unknowing. When his wife receives the fold of wildflowers, she will not understand the width of the gift.
We gather on the beach to watch the birds come in from their migration across the ocean. Waves of them glide in, settling in the marsh to rest and be observed. The town shuts down and everyone dresses in what they believe could be bird watching clothes. The event is a celebration, even drawing tourists: wonder seekers that we offer explanations and holiday priced lodging. Of course, some of us know the birds do not cross the ocean, but come in by stages from the south. We do not speak of it. Our event brightens the ignorant, and creates income.
KEEPING THE URBAN
Since his last visit, more vacant space has sprouted between the houses. What had been alleyways, which neighbors could breach opposing window to window, are now yards, an occasional garden. At the end of one street, where once had lurked a parking lot, a forest has collected. Soon there will be homesteads, farmettes. Eventually meadows and farms and merciless stands of trees with their mythical monsters. He has to act. He pulls a clamor of chain from his truck and runs it between two porches nearest, seizing them to drift apart no further. He strings chain to the next house.
The man signs autographs on the corner. No one knows what he is famous for. He does not look like a sports star. I do not remember him from television or cinema. Perhaps he is famous for something without attention: ballet, opera, an author worth literary merit. I watch his moves and precise gestures. I walk to the stationary store and buy a pad and two pens. I go two more streets to where the traffic lights are favorable to pedestrians and begin to hand out autographs. It starts slowly, but soon the public suspects there is more to me.
Ken Poyner’s four collections of flash and four of speculative poetry can be found at all the usual places. He is married to a world class female power lifter and lives with several rescue cats and betta fish in a dreary townhome development. He is a retired information systems warrior.