Sorry, I'm Sorry
he says the third time he turns around in his chair to glance at us.
Can I ask you something? I’m sorry. I see you’ve finished eating.
Can I ask where you folks are from? Me, I’m from Illinois—not Chicago.
A couple of hours south of there. A small farm town no one
has heard of. But isn’t Mexico great? I love it. I’d like to retire here.
I’m 59. I’m sorry to interrupt but can I ask what you do? Retired?
Damn! That must be nice. What did you do, if you don’t mind my asking.
Engineer and doctor? Shit, sorry, sorry. That must have been interesting.
I’m a delivery guy, well, usually. In the winter I have a small business
plowing snow. We get a lot of snow in the winter! Damn, if I’m not tired
of snow. I like the sun here. Fuck, this is nice. Sorry, sorry. Do you mind
if I sit with you? I don’t mean to interrupt. How long are you here?
You live here? Fuck me! Sorry. Oh God, I’m sorry. I’d love to live
here. And the people! It’s cheap to live here, right? No? Fuck!
Sorry, sorry. My mouth, you know. Irish. Never been able to shut it.
The nuns, back in the day, they couldn’t stop it either, or get me to not
look out the window. My daughter’s the same. But she’s bipolar. So
there’s that. Haven’t seen her for a couple of years. She’s dropped off,
you know, the grid. Fuck. Sorry. Thank you. Yeah, it’s shit. One son’s
good. Air Force. The other, he’s more artistic. Doesn’t need me either.
But hey, isn’t the sun great here? And the people! Everyone is just so fucking
nice! I’d love to retire here. My girlfriend, she bought me a ticket. She said,
just go, enjoy yourself, relax, have fun. I know I drink too much. But the kids
these days, fuck it, sorry, they got all that other shit: ecstasy, molly, other
stuff, all that shit. At least this is only booze. Hey, thanks for listening. I’m
sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. I can see you’re having a nice evening.
You know, sometimes you just got to talk to someone, you know?
But thanks. Sorry. Fuck me.
Dear Daughter on the Street of Dreams
It’s one of those holidays again,
whole days when I pretend
to tell me you’re sorry you haven’t
because you are
exhausted from staying up all night with your crying newborn
because you are
busy moving into a place of your own, with a bathroom, maybe even a bedroom
because you are
working a new job—the kind, you know, I would be proud of
I decide to clean, and in a chipped cup at the back of the kitchen drawer
the house key I took
back when I left you at rehab ten years ago.
The locks are changed now—
the key only works to open
a casket of fear
since you disappeared onto strange streets
paved with black tar
with the sweat of forgetting
where the acrid need
to hold you
burns holes in my skin
This Morning Before Coffee
I catch the Calla Lilies lifting
their creamy bracts to the first
filaments of dawn, a silent
private act of reverence, adoration.
Outlined against the steel-gray sky,
they stand erect and still, trumpet-
throated, waiting for a sign to praise
with psalms the promises of day
—or are they performing an act of
supplication: slender Calla stems
thrusting open spathes toward heaven
so their golden tongues might decry
the fragility of their pale flesh, mourn
how easily torn and broken
they can be, and plead for intervention,
a commutation that halts their slow decay?
A puff of wind interrupts my reveries.
The lilies resume their stoic roles
of sentries in the window box. I see
the difference between praise and supplication
is moot; both are lonely cries flung upward
to what is forever mute. Is it wise to emulate
the lilies? The dirt, after all, welcomes every
thing, each one, regardless, with great tenderness.
with gratitude to Pema Chodron
This morning when I stepped onto the familiar path, the wild north wind
met me with her sleeted breath, stung my eyes, numbed my ears, promised
me stories uncomfortable, unwanted. I howled back, believing her, pushed
myself against her too—without effect—until I shifted
opened wide my arms and bid the wind climb in so I might trace
her hidden face, soothe and call her by my name, and offer
a different story: thanks for her sure song
thanks for coming one more day.
Cindy Buchanan grew up in Alaska, graduated from Gonzaga University, and lives in Seattle. Her work has been published in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Straight Forward Poetry, Whistling Shade, and Tipton Poetry Journal and is upcoming in The MacGuffin and Rabid Oak. She is an avid hiker and has completed the Camino de Santiago, the Coast to Coast in England, and the Milford Trek in New Zealand. A student of Buddhist philosophy, she hopes to send kindness out into the world.