Brighter District by Barlow Adams
My son cried when he started at his new school, in the new neighborhood where the sidewalk wasn’t a spider web of cracks that led to three liquor stores in less time than one supermarket. I told him no man was an island and he asked me why anyone would want to be. It means, I told him as we stood at the bus stop, that we are all connected, we are all one.
I pointed out the smooth sidewalk and the rows of white fences, asked him if he’d ever seen so many trees: oaks and maples, pale birches with welcoming arms and skin like dappled ivory. The trees scared him, he said. Too many. He could hear them on his windows at night, scratching with their fingers, tappin’, tappin’.
He boarded the bright yellow bus same as the rest, his shoes--the better part of my paycheck-- shinier than any other. I waved to him and he waved back, a sunspot amid bright stars. I walked to the grocery where I’d gotten a job, three minutes late and hell to pay.
Boss told me to get a car. Pulled my application from the drawer, pointed one thin porcelain finger where it said, reliable transportation required, tappin’, tappin’.
After I’d bagged six hours worth of organic spinach and craft beer, eaten two crackers with spreadable cheese for lunch and kept the plastic knife, my unreliable feet carried me too slowly toward the bus stop.
My son was already off the bus, awkward in his white shoes, searching for a familiar face, a sea of pink, happy kids breaking around him like waves against a rock.
Barlow Adams is a poet from Kentucky. His work has appeared in Pilot gas stations along most of the major highways in the Midwest. He is the poet laureate of two Waffle Houses and a Quaker Steak and Lube. Follow him on Twitter at @BarlowAdams